'Ultra Silvam' was recorded in the kitchen outside the recording studio at Musikfabriken in Uppsala, Sweden by Olle Bilius, with the collected audiophile microphones and gear of the Uppsala underground scene. Kurt Ballou of CONVERGE suddenly had time to mix it once he heard a few songs, and Magnus Lindberg of CULT OF LUNA mastered it.
released June 9, 2014
There is no right, there is no wrong. Everything has to do with everything. You are not going to figure it out. When you die other people will start where you started, not where you left off. It will not be fair. You Are Not Special.
Ştiu Nu Ştiu started in the fall of 2012, when Kalle Mattsson moved back to the same city as his former Caterpillar Ghost bandmate, Martin Sandström, after almost a full decade in Amsterdam. Sandström had spend his time making albums and touring the world as guitarist and co-songwriter in cult post rock band Jeniferever. Mattsson had spent his time making artworks for record covers, and playing bass, and baritone guitar, with various bands in the Amsterdam scene, Moon & Sun, Arms and Legs, King Kong Kobra. Per Tholander, of goth pop band The Search, joined in on drums, and Billie Lindahl, who makes folk goth under the name Promise and the Monster joined on vocals and guitar.
In one way Ştiu Nu Ştiu is a new band, and in another way it is not new at all. It is a straight continuation of something already in motion. Bands come together, people meet, things happen, now this exists, and you can see it. Beauty and ugliness need to co-exist. Well written melodies need to be destroyed by distorted mayhem. Melodies need noise, and noise needs to give way to structure and focus.
*ECHOES AND DUST*
Ştiu Nu Ştiu are a curious musical assemblage from Sweden. The band consists of Kalle Mattsson (Moon & Sun, Arms and Legs, King Kong Kobra), Martin Sandström (Caterpillar Ghost, Jeniferever), Per Tholander (The Search) and Billie Lindahl (Promise and the Monster). So it's a rather unique amalgamation of genres, musicians and ideas. Not surprisingly this sonic confluence is rooted in the bands philosophy. As stated on their website: "Beauty and ugliness need to co-exist. Well written melodies need to be destroyed by distorted mayhem. Melodies need noise, and noise needs to give way to structure and focus." That is an accurate description of what Ştiu Nu Ştiu have created for their first full length album Ultra Silvam.
The successful musical balance between 'beauty' and 'ugly' is often a formidable aspiration... but Ştiu Nu Ştiu are brilliant track after track on this compelling, often enthralling release. The shifts between noisy, droning guitar and beautifully sung alt-rock kept impressing on Ultra Silvam. Even when the band drifts to one extreme of either ugliness or beauty, there is always an undercurrent of its opposite lingering in the mix.
Sorry, your Mum lied. The track 'No you are not special' leads off the album. Everyone is not a winner in ominous 'Ştiu Nu Ştiuland'. Within moments frantic waves of noise erupt like a throng of enraged banshees. Beside the gloomy guitar melody and hectic drumming, the angelic, stirring vocals from Billie Lindahl add a striking delicacy to Ştiu Nu Ştiu's sound. The song feels like it's constantly building with moments of impressive intensity.
The next track 'Sista Dansen' falls closer to the beautiful side of Ultra Silvam. Lindahl's vocals are given a perfect opportunity to soar on this track; and do they ever. She sings with intriguing elongated notes accompanied by some alluring background vocal harmonies... Meanwhile the music has a slightly melancholy vibe but still rocks with a memorable melody and groovy bassline. This song is the closest Ştiu Nu Ştiu come to a single or something that could be considered radio friendly. 'Sista' is easily the gateway song for this album. Unsure about this band? Give it a listen.
There are a few longer songs on Ultra Silvam and the 14m 'Borta' is the first of them. It is a long wander focused heavily on guitar drone and noise. The track builds quite slowly, opening with mostly uplifting tones and Lindahl's emphatic expressions. Midway through 'Borta' the vocals go silent and final 7m is pure instrumental; most of which wouldn't be out of place on a post-rock album. The waves of guitar noise climax then the song fades into a satiating drone hum.
From this contented state 'Lose/Loop' is quite an awakening. This track is a nasty piece of business. The scratchy, vitriolic guitar is often menacing and there is heavy use of noise, feedback and distortion. Lindahl's fragile vocals are replaced with unanticipated vocals that possess a guttural Black Metal ferocity. The ugly strained words bite with anguish and pain, a perfect counter to Lindahl. The album is in constant drift between extremes of beauty and ugly. The album presents an opportunity to expose the listener to new sounds that may be outside of the comforts of alt and post-rock.
Ştiu Nu Ştiu clearly like to mess with their listeners. After the violently jarring 'Lose/Loop' the band returns with the alt-rock flavoured, catchy track 'Groups'. The harsh guitar sound is replaced by subtle short notes that drop off softly. While the music is significantly more restrained (compared to "Lose/Loop") this track finds Lindahl straining some of her words. There is always a seething undercurrent of darkness that permeates Ştiu's music. The final tracks showcase some fantastic guitar atmospheres. From the unsettling instrumental 'Shadow Kingdom', the stunning drone of the title track 'Ultra Silvam' to the massive 10m aural journey of 'Rus', Ştiu Nu Ştiu's tonal creativity is on full display to close out the album.
Rarely does an album cover such a range of music in such an overt manner as Ultra Silvam has. It's an experience abounding with dramatic passages that will challenge listeners to absorb and consume. From dark treacherous guitar that howls with fiery noise and jagged distortion to the beautiful vocals of Billie Lindahl. Ultra Silvam finds an impressive measure of ugliness and beauty, capably balancing melody, emotion and imagination. As the album touches so many genres it is easy to recommend it to fans of alternative, post-rock, drone, ambient and/or rock. Dig in and enjoy the banquet of musical extremes.