Far too long ago now, at the beginning of March in fact, I received a package from Mattias Olsson containing a CD copy of the Dial album by his Molesome project. Originally released on Bandcamp in 2016 it has now appeared on CD, so as it’s a fascinating piece of work that deserves to be heard more widely, a review is necessary in order to encourage you to hopefully give it a go (with apologies to Mattias for the lateness!).
It almost goes without saying that Dial is not a straightforward listen; a single track evolving over half an hour, requiring close attention and an emotional connection, a true work of art to absorb and digest.
You need to immerse yourself in Dial, settle back and crank up the volume as the opening electrostatic rumble shakes the room, punctuated by charged shards of positivity against the glowering backdrop. There’s a dreamy drone to it, violin-like sounds emerge, followed by a haunting trumpet melody, rising to an instrumental cacophony before easing away, back into the black. Piano and the sound of bells filter through, it’s dissonant but with a deeply emotional heart, not mechanical and forced but human and with a warmth of understanding. Make no mistake, this is not a piece that has been randomly thrown together.
As Mattias says, “A lot of the Music that I write and record is a reaction to what is going around me… Dial was born out of frustration that everything around me was moving too slow. Recording and writing albums became huge massive projects with to do lists, notation, session musicians, editing, self doubt and very often it seemed like very little of the initial rush of passion that started the projects survived at the end”. So the reaction to that is to create a piece that would “emulate the feeling of listening to a radio and shifting through the stations but occasionally staying deliberately between stations and just listening to the noise with little pieces of music bleeding through”.
The results can throw you off balance, the odd juxtapositions confusing the brain, the uncertainty forcing it to desperately scrabble around to find a rock to cling to in the fast flowing stream of sound. It is as an anchor that the brass instruments work best, the beating heart of the piece around which the maelstrom of found sounds and interjections whirl. Cutup voices are used to texture the sounds rather than for their words, few of which filter through to meaning.
Halfway through there is a step back to the forlorn trumpet, around which the depth of sound reconfigures, guitars can be heard with Mellotron melodies that emerge as oases of calm, before moving on again.
Mattias set up the whole piece to be recorded in one continuous flow. “I knew how long it was going to be when I started. I had the arrangement and mood firmly in my head. And then I just started recording. There is randomness and sonic accidents. The mix was done with the same attitude. It was done live in two takes with no computers or automation.” That’s quite a feat.
The wall of sound subsides again to delicate bells and pulses of light, there’s an uplifting quality to this section that evolves into a chorus of Mellotron and flute. Open your mind and it’s a fully engaging journey, right to the very end.
“Listening to it now makes me very happy and proud. There’s a sense of musical abandonment to it. It leaves a lot of responsibility to the listener”, and Mattias is right. The art is in the creation but the listener has the job of interpreting it all, deciding in which way it resonates and how it is to be understood – or whether it is to be understood at all.
This is certainly not for everyone but it is a powerful listening experience that pushes the boundaries of what music can do just that little bit further. I didn’t know what to make of it the first time I heard it but soon found it to be a compelling experience and one that I wanted to repeat.
I still don’t think I know what to make of it, but I commend Mattias highly for making the effort to allow it to happen, and that, after all, is the beauty of experiencing music that comes from the perspective of one individual, for it to be then be translated via the experiences and thoughts of another. It will resonate with some, but not with others, and that doesn’t matter in the slightest.
“And one thing is certain”, says Mattias, “you will hear it differently than I do”.
01. Dial (32:44)
Total Time – 32:44
Mattias Olsson – All Instruments
Record Label: Roth Händle Recordings
Country of Origin: Sweden
Date of CD Release: 28th January 2018 (I think!)