steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Pål Asle Pettersen

"Skitt" CD


Genre: all 20th century music + wood chipper = ??


February 2010

You gotta figure; if you put together eighty tracks on one record, aren't they bound to all start sounding the same? Hell, even those ten-thousand artist microsecond compilations end up molding together into homogeneous goop after, oh, five minutes or so. But Pål Asle Pettersen, now here's a character who digs sound, and the aptly-titled Skitt expressly clarifies that very notion as it Skitters across a madcap tsunami of outer-limits zaniness. These unusually concise fragments bound feverishly from one concept to the next, masticating noise, electronics, and acoustic instruments throughout the record's length. Its zany, maudlin stuff made by and for the shortest attention span possible. Glimpse an average five-track stretch: a grumbling sandy tape loop; then pretty clarinet and guitar touched with static fuzz'n'click; spasmodic sample rabble; four seconds of blistering noise; rickety junk rock. And all that in only a few minutes...

Skitt can be a challenging listen for those of us who like our ideas fleshed out, but Pettersen brings to the table a sheer joy for sonic experimentation, allowing each concept its due time to quickly uncurl before being shunted away in favour of the next thought. Every listener will surely devise their own preferred stanzas, though my most-treasured nuggets include the blissful, momentary drone of "hrmlp," eerie waterphone snip "bldrsmn," and horror-hypnosis vortex "drnedrnn." But to refer to only a few tracks is to ignore so much of this diverse beast, which plummets through more styles than one might bear to count. There are, even, several melodic and even accessible moments -- like the a capella "nr1 cpll," cutesy, dinky techno-popper "skkrpoppmkk," and folky campfire twinkle "pskdel" -- although (to be fair!) the bulk of the record occupies itself with more abstract experiments.

But while Skitt offers plenty to talk about (at least for the ever-verbose music critic), it also challenges facile description due to sheer abundance of topics. It's this very paradox which forces me to euthanize this scrawl before it devolves further into tortuous categorization; instead I'll leave the sturdy and brave listener to bear independent witness to this multifarious adventure. Godspeed!

pål asle pettersen's myspace


Michael Tau

[Vitals: 80 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2009]