The Bleak Industrialists

[Norway sleeve]"Norway" (EP, 2019) !Recommended!

Ombrelle Concrčte

This meditative four-track EP from Clive Smedley’s The Bleak Industrialists project exhibits a decidedly 1970s quality ambient music feel to it (sans the hippy shit).

The black and white, DIY photocopy style cover visually harks back to the early punk years, depicting a white-haired boy wearing long shorts, sidling up against a wall that has graffiti with the word LEVE painted above a symbol looking like the number 7 written over a capital letter H.

In Norway, Leve is the title of the Norwegian Organization for Suicide Survivors, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find that this hints at where this EP is coming from.

The instrumental tracks, simply labelled Norway 1, Norway 2, Norway 3 and Norway 4, do have something of a sense of optimism returning after a period of trauma about them. There’s a plaintive, earthy, grounded feel to all of this. The piano based Norway 3 is the shortest and brightest piece, but it's Norway 2 that’s the absolute gem here. Taking inspirational cues from the ambient sounds of a harbour on some remote headland, it effortlessly deserves mention alongside Brian Eno’s best work.

But there’s not a whiff of pretension about any of this.

Sounding as if a gruff northerner had been reared exclusively on slow Krautrock, but decided it needed a gritty reality check by imparting the spirit of local mining community brass bands, this is 25 minutes of glorious introspection. Norway 4 brings this beautifully diverting sojourn gently to a halt, with its slowed heartbeat of a distant animal skin drum, as a piano slowly picks out a wistful melody against a warm tone synth backing.

The perfect soundtrack for staring into the middle distance without a thought in your head. 8/10 

Rob Dyer (April 2020)

See also:
Harold Budd
Brian Eno
the closer we are to dying