This collaboration between Lasse Marhaug – one of the far north’s most consistently excellent exponents of extreme music – and improvisational duo Sult sees both parties mesh seamlessly across two intriguing compositions. At 19 minutes each, Harpoon (Conrad Sound/Pica Disc) is a relatively compact record: sufficient length over which to explore an idea, extrapolate and extend it, drive it to its conclusion before departing while the listener is still teasing sense and intrigue from its labyrinthine sound.
There’s a degree of mystery regarding the sounds created on ‘Harpoon (First)’ and ‘Harpoon (Second)’: Sult’s technique is to massively amplify tiny acoustic details created from manipulation of physical objects to create a dense field of sonic detail. The result here is like the wildest of free jazz solos played out against the backdrop of a hard-at-work chop-shop hacking up, sawing, blowtorching and dismantling the latest line-up of twoked cars. The image of an ocean-going vessel and a harpoon on the album cover is suggestive – noise records are prone to this kind of visual prompting and deliberate influencing – though in this case I hear nothing indicative of a watery environment. Here, the queasy groans and creaks rap and patter in a constant hail of spluttering pops and cracks that suggest metallic origins to the sounds. Noise is complex and here there no let-up at all: more a case of certain directions or instincts being accentuated or de-emphasised one moment to the next. The predominant tones suggest iron or steel ripped and torn.
Counter to that sense of endless dividing, there’s no sonic detail divorcing ‘Harpoon (First)’ from ‘Harpoon (Second)’. Really it’s only the dictated physical reality of this release as two sides of a record that provides the structure of start/stop; otherwise, this gleeful destruction would roll – entertainingly and intriguingly – devoid of end.