Dusted Reviews

Jakob Olausson - Moonlight Farm

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Jakob Olausson

Album: Moonlight Farm

Label: De Stijl

Review date: May. 16, 2007

When trying to get your head around Jakob Olausson’s music, singers and songwriters from different eras keep turning up. His lyrics — and voice at times — tread the depths with Leonard Cohen; his tunings occasionally go wayward like Jandek’s, yet unlike the Texas recluse’s, they never get lost; his penchant for aural weirdness and creating a signature ambience places him firmly in league with tone-and-word benders like Matt Valentine and Ben Chasny. His backstory (sugar-beet farmer from Sweden) fits in with the crop of cottage-legends that, hand-in-hand with the explosion of home recording, has grown up in recent years; Skip Spence gets name-checked in the press release. On this CD reissue of the De Stijl LP, Olausson evokes all of these, but does not mimic them. Between these standard bearers and himself, he puts some healthy distance.

For one, there’s more light than dark in these recordings. Olausson emits none of Spence’s or Jandek’s hermetic insanity, nor does his melancholy tip into the suicidal key Cohen would sometimes indulge. For every moment of inward gazing, there’s an urge outwards. On “Queen Bee,” he pairs a critical character portrait with a plodding, nostalgic progression. On the instrumental “At the Citadel,” layers accrue without rush, first a droning violin, then a chorus of straining voices, then hazy electric guitar lead. It feels inevitable, completely natural, grounded. Such a balance between inward and outward, the vague and the crystalline seems a prime concern. He admits as much on “Silhouette V,” imploring the listener, “For God’s sake, don’t hide your head in the sand / For God’s sake, don’t run away to neverland.”

Olausson is good at following his own advice. He never lets his vague multi-phony overtake the straight line of song, keeping the listener in the loop at all times. The layered vocals and mountain-lion howl of electric guitar on “Live to Tell” get balanced by a steady acoustic strum. What seems to be running water trickles underneath the entirety of “Silhouette V,” but Olausson deploys it so subtly that it works as gentle percussion as well as organic ambience.

A languid, unhurried tempo keeps every piece shuffling along, and heaps of echo and space make the harmonies drift — sometimes shapes appear, sometimes they dissipate. On the first couple listens, it might be easy to harp on the disc's sameness, but the album’s magic works slowly and patiently. Every spin is bound to unearth something new. On Moonlight Farm, Olausson has managed what many have tried - he’s created depth from indeterminacy, and harmony from dissonance.

By Matthew Wuethrich

Other Reviews of Jakob Olausson

Morning & Sunrise

Read More

View all articles by Matthew Wuethrich

Find out more about De Stijl

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.