After a string of singles released via his bandcamp account, Sigurd Ytre-Arne has taken to the album format for the first time as his Leaveme alias. Years weaves these tracks and more into an artificial narrative that spans the course of the album. The viscerally magnificent soundscapes float into each other in sluggish contorting waves of glacial temperance, slowly unfurling to reveal the innocent melodies behind the appeal of the music. Leaveme uses a few, essential parts to create his works, often painting over them with a detailed brush where the pop orchestrations deconstruct into subtle glitch cacophonies that sound like Matmos through the ears of Clams Casino, and it’s not the only resemblance I can think of. Opener Kim uses a very familiar brass synth, one that prompt ‘s an association with Ratatat, while Sigurd’s use of the vocal sample on that song and Stranger can often bear striking similarities to early Burial.
Combining elements of sampling and live electronics, Leaveme encourages many associations, but they are fleeting as his extensive melting pot of influences expands with each track on the album. Born out of the Norwegian live scene, Sigurd Ytre-Arne brings that tradition of improvisation along with his heritage and creates interesting timelines alongside the progressive hip-hop aesthetic of his sampling techniques. The jittery break-beat of a track like Chalkstone for instance very rarely relies on the repetitive loop in the way of Hip-Hop’s tradition, but rather persistently morphs alongside Tusen Takk and Telief Raabe’s vocals in a continuous modulation of theme and form. There’s a clear progression to the tracks, a composed plot born out of adventurous improvisation and re-defined in the context of a pop song.
It’s this pop element that keeps Sigurds compositions open, airy and atmospheric, while the improvised, or in fact what I discern to be improvised moments, keeps the listener tuned in and aware of the compositions. Songs like Kim, Stranger and Chalkstone are the type of songs you’ll hear from across a crowded noisy room, and your ears will immediately perk up, encouraging you to investigate the source of this serene noise. As such, Years is an album without a dull moment. Even the filler tracks like Dunja and Aliene open new dimensions for the listener as they float out of the residue of Chalkstone and Stranger respectively, all forming part of a complete album storyline without really having any relation to each other. And if the more pop-centric tracks are too much for the discerning alternative music fan, tracks like Crown and Torshov are prime examples of Leaveme’s more experimental aptitude. Alongside the more accessible tracks they all come together in a bigger picture. I found it particularly pleasing how the album ends with a different cut from the same vocal sample that started it all on Kim, ending the album quite conclusively for the listener. Years is an album you’d hope would have no end and when you do reach that seminal point it takes very little encouragement to start it all over again.