Bjørn Svin: Browen
Bjørn Svin's Browen is distinguished by more than just the Berlin- and New York-based producer's fixation on particular letterforms (every one of its twelve track titles includes the letter O, and there's an apparent obsession with R, B, W, and E too)—not that titles such as “mOmWree” and “ROwmOR” communicate all that meaningfully. Nevertheless, the tracks communicate more than enough on sonic grounds alone. In some respects, Browen sounds like little else in the contemporary electronic scene. It's as if the nine years Svin's spent not releasing new material has enabled him to wipe the slate clean (his last contribution to the Danish techno scene was 2001's Kan Tropisk), and bring a refreshingly new sensibility to the experimental electronic playing field.
He cites figures as diverse as Mozart, Steve Reich, Ligeti, Ella Fitzgerald, and Baaba Maal as inspirations, but the name that most comes to mind while listening to Browen is Pole. Svin's music may have dance rhythm roots, but the album finds him pushing his music far beyond it by recasting the genre's associated conventions in bold manner. A track such as “RoweR” wouldn't sound out of place on Steingarten, and much of Browen excudes the rhythmic invention and explorativeness of a Pole outing as well as the pristine clarity and detail of a prototypical ~scape set (note, for example, the way in which Svin treats the title track's tempo elastically by speeding it up and slowing it down). A futuramic blend of African, techno, and experimental electronic forms, “mOmWree” works African vocal snippets into a heady mix of tribal percussive patterns and throbbing bass lines. Svin even toys with vocals by adding Jacob Bellens' voice to an electronic sea of clattering organisms in “BooO” to admittedly jarring effect. Beatless meditations break up the rhythmic flow in three tracks, including “bowbroW,” where bright clusters of synthetic patterns radiate like neon lights, and “rOOn,” whose whirrs, flickers, and pops illuminate the night sky like fireflies.
Even a cursory listen reveals that Svin's electronic music is enlivened by vitality and, though rooted in techno and club music, largely sidesteps strict 4/4 templates. The closest the album gets to straight techno is in “ROwmOR” where the genre's thumping gallop gives the tune a singularly focused drive that prevents it from splintering into experimental shards.