There are some bands who are content to make a record, play a few shows, and exist as a musical entity only when it’s time to make a new album, and then there are bands like The Skull Defekts who are the backbone of their musical communities. Hard at work on their numerous individual projects, constantly collaborating, releasing their own records on their own imprints, and touring incessantly, The Skull Defekts are Sweden’s answer to the States’ Sonic Youth and the Netherlands’ The Ex and one of the centerpieces of the Swedish experimental rock scene.
Since their creation in 2005, The Skull Defekts have taken their base of classic rock with massive guitar riffing, and infused it with their interest in circular composition, drone, tribal music, Indian ragas, ‘60s minimalism, and experimental music from numerous ages. The band’s lineage is nearly unparalled amongst their peers with members having served time in Union Carbide Productions, Kid Commando, Alvars Orkester, Satan Power, Oceans of Silver & Blood, Anti Cimex, Cortex, Trapdoor Fucking Exit, 8 Days of Nothing, and countless others. Their collaborations are no less notable with members working with Pan Sonic and Mats Gustafsson. Peer Amid, their third “rock” album, finds the band augmenting their line-up with a new fifth member, Lungfish vocalist Daniel Higgs.
Recorded at The Dustward Studio in Stockholm by Stefan Brainstrum, Peer Amid is their strongest effort to date. The arena-sized riffs of “No More Always” seep with an undeniable swagger, briefly catapulting the bands cyclic riffs into a frenzy. The intensity of “Gospel of the Skull” is driven by a tension created by the push and pull of Higgs vocals and mostly restrained guitar. Some may be familiar with this song as it was performed with a full symphony orchestra as part of the Gothenburg String Theory series that also featured the likes of Jose Gonzalez and El Perro Del Mar. The guitar lines of “Fragrant Nimbus” would make an apt soundtrack for a retro action movie on their own. When coupled with the foreboding words of Daniel Higgs, things rapidly move in another direction, fraying and shattering as his warnings become more explicit. The combination of Higgs’ lyrics and singular vocals are the perfect foil for The Skull Defekts myriad of talents. Peer Amid is a rock record, made by musicians who have always reveled in exploration, and made for a head that can accommodate the 360 degree turn.
The cover is the work of Swedish artist Frederik Söderberg who has done several other Skull Defekts releases. According to the band, “Frederik understands our music in a very natural way, and we have a relationship where he is inspired by us and the other way around. The front cover of Peer Amid can be seen as an image of the sound of The Skull Defekts – the circle of sound.”
Peer Amid will be out on Thrill Jockey Records 2011.02.22!
Text by Thrill Jockey