[releases] afe076lcd
non ethos: syk asfalt

  Artist: Non Ethos
Title: Syk Asfalt
Format: CD-R ltd. to 100 copies in pro-printed cardboard sleeve
Tracks: 7
Playing time: 54:31
Release date: April 2007
File under: Electroacoustic / Experimental / Dark Ambient


Track List:

1.  Syk Asfalt  6:42

2.  Yellow Light  7:22

3.  Sleeping Streets  7:58

4.  Regn  3:06

5.  Erosion  6:04

6.  Snow  4:48

7.  Isar  18:17



Non Ethos was a side-project of Norwegian Hærleif Langås (...now active as Northaunt) up to around 2003.

It was a no-rules project that dived deep into experimental soundworks, drones and isolationism. It was just like a musical terrain vague, undefined but still loaded with hidden meanings.

During its existence, a few Non Ethos discs were privately released in very small editions by the author himself. One of them, "Hidden Structures, Lost Places" was re-released by Afe back in 2000; now it's the turn of "Syk Asfalt", which comes in a completely remastered and revised version.

According to the author's words, this album is a meditation on time, urban emptiness and nature's destructive forces, the ever ongoing erosion, the crack in the asphalt that slowly spreads, unheard, unseen, in the urban nights, sometimes patched by street workers but never stopped, just like we can't mend the cracks in ourselves.

"Syk Asfalt" begins with the homonymous title track and its grating stones backed up by a disquieting drone and looped segments of more uncertain activities.

The black ambience of "Yellow Light" is constructed on reverberating samples rid by hum and electric buzzes. The tension created by this combination is very high.

"Sleeping Streets" is based on a looped field-recording taken at dawn that creates a strong sense of waiting and a misterious presence which is finally revealed at the end of the track.

Both "Regn" and "Erosion" are built on recordings of rain matched with more drones and ambiences created by manipulated stones and gravel. They suggest a feeling of impotence and resignation, just like being stuck and lost behind a window watching one's own dreams drowning in the pouring rain.

A human voice rips up high-pitched sounds walking on "Snow" describing the experience, just before getting lost inside a white desert leaving a treated organ drone behind itself...

A short version of "Isar" was already included on the "No Abiding Places" compilation last year. Offered here is the full eighteen minutes version which serves as a more minimal / isolationist conclusion to an album of great value.

The whole "Syk Asfalt" keeps its promises from the beginning to the end, and Non Ethos has the great merit of being able to create such a strong and evocative record with just a few, but very effective, elements.


"Syk Asfalt" concentrates on grating and gravelling noises, on the finely gritting emissions of boot soles grinding tiny stones and urban debris. What starts out concretely and almost as a sort of selective musique concrete, is slowly lifted into ghostly abstractions, as weightless drones rise up through the gutters and fill the spaces between the molecular noises. Langås is not interested in the kind of accretions he now specialises in, nor does he dissect his gravel sounds into even smaller, sharper and self-sufficient entities. Instead, the raw and hollistic character of the recordings remains and so does the contrast between the "musical" and the "material". Possibly these mostly six to seven minute long pieces are less to be understood as compositions, but rather as snapshots of street scenes, witnessed at some of the most forlorne corners of town. It is almost like watching a Polaroid slowly take on shapes and colours, before it sails away gracefully, floating weightlessly into a pool of mud. The fact that one can hear footsteps distancing themselves from the action at the end of almost every track intensifies the impression that "Syk Asfalt" wants to "observed" rather than simply "listened to"... What it doesn't provide is an obvious focus. There is only a scant pool of musical objects and none of them seems to want to take center stage, leaving one unsure about whence to direct one's attention. Also, there is a high degree of openness, which could easily be confused with aimlessness – "Syk Asfalt" never forces itself upon the listener and needs to be discovered. Once you have, you will find new details with each listen on an album of gentle contours, despite its sinister symantics. Just give it some time."
Tokafi [more]

"Syk Asfalt" takes the listener into a strange wet and grey world, where slowly decaying buildings appear out of rancid fog, black spores trails and growths creep over ever surface and the stagnant air is always heavy with dark threat. And it just carries on raining and raining within this world, imagine if Béla Tarr decided to do a grim horror film this is the audio equivalent of it. The album is built around all manner of wet, sodden, crunching, decaying and crumbling sounds, along with underground groaning of rushing water. Trails of grim ambience appearing ever so often to leak out bleak harmonics, but the main focus here is on sound texture and not ambience... Tracks like "Erosion" actually give the feeling that the inside of your head is been slowly eaten and decayed away - the roof of your mouth melting and collapsing into your throat, as your teeth splash out in the grey puddles that surround you."
Musique Machine [more]

"...musically Non Ethos is a sort of experimental ambient music that's actually a bit different than Northaunt. Where Northaunt is generally more melodic and chilly sounding, Non Ethos is drony ambiance with glitches, electric buzzes, and various field recordings that are processed into sound. The album is - as you might expect - calm, but at times it gives me the feeling that something more intense and harsh is on the horizon, but things never really reach that point. On the other hand sometimes the drones become a bit better paced and it serves to keep interest. If you're a fan of Hærleif's work or just want another neat ambient release, than I see no reason not to investigate this one..."
Lunar Hypnosis [more]

"Come per i piiù noti dischi come Northaunt, Langaas in Non Ethos si muove nell'ambito di una dark ambient che nel caso di "Syk Asfalt", costruito per lo più su samples generati da pietre, alterna episodi più sommessi come l'orrorifica "Yellow Light" e "Sleeping Streets", ad altrettanto convincenti e suggestivi frangenti dalle tonalità più cruente, dalla eccellente title track, in cui sembrano in azione mostruose mandibole annichilenti, a "Regn" ed "Erosion", percosse da una pioggia battente. Di gran pregio la progressione inscenata dai diciotto minuti finali di "Isar" che conduce in brume desolate e prive di vita."
Blow Up [more]

"Italian dark ambient/experimental label Afe has been prolific recently, with a series of releases in stunning A5 sleeves and limited pressings. Non Ethos' (a.k.a. Hærleif Langås, now active as Northaunt) "Syk Asfalt" is one such offering, straddling vaguely foreboding atmospherics and more pure sound design and field recordings. The whole exercise is rather minimalist. Natural/mechanical processes matter-of-factly fill the first 15 minutes. The effect is like standing in the doorway of a cottage with a thunderstorm outside and someone vacuuming inside. Not until midway through "Sleeping Streets" does low end enter to signal menace, human intervention. Otherwise, machines buzz quietly; water burbles steadily. "Snow" is the most dynamic composition, overlaying low drones with found voices, glassy textures, and windswept, mutated organs. Neither calming nor agitating, such patient abstraction leaves interpretation up to the listener."
Stylus Magazine [more]

"Non Ethos era lo pseudonimo dietro il quale di celava il norvegese Hærleif Langås, ora attivo come Northhaunt, dedito ad una cupa drone music intrecciata con una fitta dose di isolazionismo. Afe fa' uscire questo "Syk Asfalt" dopo che era circolato solo in una edizione privata a cura dell'autore. Nelle sue intenzioni doveva essere una meditazione sul tempo, sulla vacuità urbana e sulle forze distruttive della natura, e devo dire che la dark ambient che le sorregge rende bene l'idea del concept. Su tutto i magnetici ed ipnotici diciotto minuti di "Isar"."
SentireAscoltare [more]

"It is that rare thing: an album that grabs your attention from the first and keeps a slowly tightening grip right through to the end... For me there is a sense of accompanying someone on a nighttime journey, during which a slow-building but palpable menace permeates the atmosphere. Something illicit, secretive, perhaps even wrong, is happening here, and even early on there are some truly sinister moments - the end of "Yellow Light" for one - where you literally find yourself holding your breath, waiting for something to happen and not sure you want to hear it when it does... It's not happy listening, and it's not sociable listening either. That I would not listen to it often is not a black mark against its favour - it's because it deserves to be listened to in full, without interruption, and savoured. Bleak, bitter, cold - and brilliant."
Connexion Bizarre [more]