DOCK 57 - Live In Gothenburg – August 7 2010 (DOCK 57)
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Live In Gothenburg – August 7 2010 by Roll The Dice
Formats: Limited Edition 12” EP (750 copies for the world) (DOCK 57) Digital (DOCK 57E)
Release Date: 16 April 2011

Electronic music is once again smitten with the mind-altering possibilities of the analogue synthesizer. Perhaps it’s down to a desire for escapism in a troubled world, or a wish to return to the tactile nature of the pre-digital age. Either way, it’s been sending a new generation of musicians careering through the sort of cosmic wormholes rarely explored since the heady days of the seventies.

Swedish duo Roll The Dice are a pitch-perfect example. Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt’s self-titled debut album caused quite a stir upon release last year, earning them a place among the ranks of Boomkat and Phonica’s top albums of 2010, and picking up some high-profile fans, including Kieran Hebden, Dan Snaith, Erol Alkan, Trevor Jackson and Fuck Buttons. And deservedly so: with its haunted, hypnotic blend of piano and stuttering electronics, Roll The Dice sat perfectly alongside 2010’s most accomplished synth revivalists, Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never, as well as harking backward to Steve Reich’s spiraling minimalism and the astral stargazing of Cluster or early Tangerine Dream. But crucially, it also looked forward, drawing on Mannerfelt’s experience as a member of Fever Ray and Pardon’s background in film and TV composition for inspiration to craft a set of deeply visual epics, intimate in nature but cinematic in scope.

The shadowy duo’s new release is a much-needed document of their live show. Released for Record Store Day on beautifully packaged, limited 12” vinyl and the obligatory download (mastered by Stefan ‘Pole’ Betke), Live In Gothenburg – August 7 2010 captures their onstage interaction in full flight. Avoiding the ‘two-guys-and-two-laptops’ stigma that so often accompanies live electronic music in the digital world, they instead send the grainy buzz of raw synths through a tangled maze of wires and effect processors, lending these extended versions of ‘Undertow’ and ‘The New Black’ a wonderful, edgy sense of spontaneity.

As always though, the devil’s in the details; tiny rippling imperfections stack up over each track’s length, building into dense and driving clouds of noise and melody. While the rounded tones of their recorded incarnation evoke insular headspaces, Roll The Dice live is a different beast, driving forward with a spidery, jazz-infused intensity that sets them alongside fellow sonic adventurers the Moritz Von Oswald Trio. ‘Undertow’ transcends the softly meditative pulse of its recorded counterpart in favour of something brooding and almost aggressive, the duo’s semi-improvised performance allowing it to sprawl outward on all sides. On the record’s flipside, ‘The New Black’ finds its release in repetition, a storm that gradually darkens the skies above before dissolving in lightning bursts of dissonance and breaking apart.

Live In Gothenburg’s taut, almost industrial energy marks the beginning of a thematic transition for Roll The Dice. Where their debut album sung of hope and space, though admittedly cloaked in shades of grey and dark blue, this 12” is pockmarked with the granular, soot-cloaked feel of the big city and the volcanic darkness of its artwork. It’s a heady, trance-inducing combination.

Mannerfelt and Pardon are currently working on their second full-length album, which will be released on The Leaf Label later this year.

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A1. Undertow (live)
B1. The New Black (live)

'Undertow (live)' video