Svarte Greiner





Erik K. Skodvin‘s third release under his pseudonym Svarte Greiner gained cult status on the internet as soon as it was released in 2009. Raised in Langesund, Norway and now residing in Berlin, he rivets on the Dark Ambient genre and also photographs and draws grim designs, mythical creatures and birds. Fans knew what to except, but Kappe is now considered the breakthrough album for him and leaves every Ambient fan who doesn‘t have a presentiment of Skodvin‘s oeuvre shocked and shattered, deeply awed. His releases are intrasigently grave and sepulchral with only the faintest undertone of wistful hope. Worst of all (meaning best of all), the gothic horror that is evoked in each of Kappe‘s tunes doesn‘t erupt with a sudden moment of shock and thus ends the listener‘s discomfort, but on the contrary moves on with a creepy build-up of tension and anxiety. The album contains four dismal figments, spanning from 7+ till 16+ minutes. If you are looking for cheap shockers, look elsewhere. You won‘t hear Vincent Price‘s laughter on here. This is serious business. Don‘t call me a sissy, but somehow the front cover awakens the primal fear by displaying a humanoid gestalt covered in silk, directly facing the viewer without showing any facial features. But there is something rasterized under the silk – a skeleton head, a fencing mask, something entirely different and scary? Whatever it is, the artwork just features this thing on its front without any deflecting elements. Truly a horrific artwork!


What‘s a euphemism? Probably a Svarte Greiner track with the title Tunnel Of Love. You only get the tunnel with no love to be found. The track begins with synthesizer howls and at first this might remind you of a train stopping at the railroad station. Lots of hectically flittering bells and clips are added to the mix alongside a deep black contrabass-like string. The overall theme is therefore set from the first track onwards: intermingling high-pitched bells, fizzles and noises with dark, clangorous strings and reverberant rumbles. It‘s a relatively slow and short start of a terrifying album. All ingredients are already there but they are used on a minimum basis as if Skodvin was reluctant to unhand the full power of comprehensive terror yet. However, things get loose on the second track called Where Am I that immediately starts with a distinct metallic clang that slowly fades out only to be repeated time and again, its reverb getting slightly longer each time. An echoey acid note is added and the reverb of the clang is intensified and twisted, sounding much darker and eerier in the middle of the track due to its blending with the afore-used contrabass-like string off Tunnel Of Love. The track ends with the clang being muffled and hazy as if the distance between the listener and its source grows larger. Fading fragile and quiet strings let this track end on a quiet note. Candle Light Dinner Actress is the 16+ minute long varied centerpiece. Dark warbled notes of an electric guitar and high pitched strings create the familiar atmosphere of despair, especially the strings cause an immediacy and pressure due to their blood-curdling presence. Once more the track does not batter the listener with loud, intensive heart-stopping moments but leaves enough room for emptiness and supposedly vestigial soundscapes. However, after almost 7 minutes, the sanity is lost: the strings and noises tumesce for thirty seconds, uncanniness ensues. Afterwards, the track is quiet again, the haunting electric guitar remains in the background. After 11 minutes, the formerly dark electric guitar is pitched and yet again confronts the darkness with lucid, screeching elements. At the end, conveyor-like machine sounds rise momentarily, just when the listener thinks that he got through everything. And finally, Last Light heavily uses the electric guitar which accompanies the sonorous dark strings one last time. However, the accompaniment is not clearly structured, but rather seems like an orderless fight between the two elements, both the guitar and the dark strings. After 6 minutes, quavering synth strings occur again, swell up for a few seconds and again fade out, ending the album in peace, but surely not in harmony.


Playing Kappe solely on Halloween would entirely spoil it. Naturally, a bright summer day is equally inept. If you want to bathe in fear for a change, listen to this in the dark while being alone as the album works best this way, unsurprisingly. As the doom and death metal scene evinced us, there‘s always room for harder, beastlier, manlier and weirder compositions. Hence, there are people out there who try to outclass Skodvin‘s output in terms of the above categories. I say this is manageable. But is it desirable for our psyche? I let you be the judge on this. This is for fans of Aphex Twin‘s Selected Ambient Works II that features similar uneasy tracks (Radiator, Grass, Matchsticks to name just three) and probably for fans of Jonson‘s Mindlook album. If the spookier tracks of Wolfgang Voigt‘s Gas project are your cup of blood, then you will equally dig Kappe, although there is no steady 4/4 beat to be heard on here. As you may already know, I prefer mellow, glossy Ambient tunes that elicit a relaxing atmosphere – Kappe resides on the exact opposite scale of the spectrum, forcing me to recommend it because of Skodvin‘s artistic approach which works magnificently well. Recommended for faint-hearted Ambient listeners like myself. Skodvin teaches us a lesson or two!



Further reading:

  • Erik K. Skodvin's Twitter name is @_knive.
  • His Flickr account features hundreds of tour photos and – often surprisingly – bright nature sceneries.




Ambient Review 009: Svarte Greiner – Kappe (2009). Originally published on Dec. 18, 2011 at