Pjusk: Shibuya/Vals/Syklus (Self Released, 2016)

Pjusk: Shibuya/Vals/Syklus (Self Released, 2016)

by Jason

is the experimental, electronica project of Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and Rune Sagevik. They hail from Bergen, Norway and have released three brief EP’s over the course of 2016. I thought it would be appropriate to write them up in one post rather than separate them over the course of three posts. Gjelsvik and Sagevick joined together as Pjusk in 2005 and have released several tracks on compilations as well as three albums on 12K records.


Shibuya is an EP based off of a dj set Pjusk did in March 2016 at Dommune in Tokyo, Japan in the Shibuya district. The EP is dedicated to Hiro Hoshino, Masato Hoshino, and Yui Onodera, after whom the tracks are named. The first track on the EP is “Hiro”. It begins with echoing synths that bounce about in the speakers and then this deep, mellow groove kicks in with subtle drones and textures floating about in the speakers. Spacey keys and xylophone type tones fill the spaces in the soundscape. “Masa” comes into the speakers with an eerie drone and spacey clicks and noises. A female vocal eventually comes to the fore and punctuates the beginning of heavy bass rhythms. This has an epic club feel that will get your head bobbing in time. “Yui” slows down the pace a bit and goes into drone mode. There is an ambient feel here with the sort of sounds you hear from the static you get from a vinyl player. It fills the speaker and then fast paced beats come to the fore. There is a spacey swirling vibe here with a lot of various textures filling the space.


Vals goes in a more ambient, experimental direction. Vals contains two tracks that did not make it onto their Sval LP. So, they released them as downloadable tracks on their bandcamp site. This short, two track EP begins with “Ad Undas featuring Strië”. This guest artist is an experimental German artist who works in sonic abstract landscapes. “Ad Undas” is provocative and beautifully constructed. Pjusk play more with textures on this track than they did on Shibuya, making for a larger abstract soundscape. Metallic sounds create clicking noises and a slight percussive sound throughout the track. Low rumbles peer into the landscape every once and a while, playing off a female voice and bright, reversed synth tones. “Opp Ned” is the second track, which begins with more ominous tones, moving from speaker to speaker. A low rumble vibrates while fuzzy, metallic tones thump periodically. There are periodic injections of swirling, spacey tones that whirl about amid the lower floor.


Skylus is the most recent of the three brief EP’s Pjusk has put out this year and this one is certainly a treat because of the guest artists on each track. The EP is meant to be a collaborative effort between artists from Canada, Iran, China, and, of course, Norway. The truly international amount of talent here is on display in the depth and maturity of the tracks. The first track, “Trinity Bay” features none other than Loscil who put out an incredible album this year called Monument Builders. This composition is a masterclass in ambient music, with textures and tones that play off one another brilliantly. A bounding rhythm echoes throughout the track as drones and effects come into the listener’s purview. The tone is somber and introspective, giving off a meditative vibe. What sounds like radio transmissions ominously punctuate the landscape, creating an almost sci-fi, apocalyptic sense of urgency. It’s an emotive and exceptional piece of ambient electronica that all fans of the genre should hear.

The second track features Porya Hatami who is an experimental artist based in Iran. There are some beautiful traditional tones and phrasings in this from Hatami’s home country as the track begins. The drones in this track are subtle and relaxed but punctuated with variously textured sounds that are almost abrasive. When I say almost, the artists stop before any great tension is caused in the listener, really being patient and careful with the use of the tones. Rain like textures, snaps, and various fuzzy synths fill the soundscapes. Piano eventually makes an appearance amid random ambient noises. The track then becomes a fuzzed-out wall of sound rumbling about with a synth playing a monotone in the middle and then the composition fades. The last track is “Xuě” featuring the artist SHOA from china. The soundscapes begin with a beautiful drone accompanied by some clicks for texture. A low, percussion like rhythm is embedded in the drone as it slowly rises in volume. There is a subtle sense of the use of texture here with some unique sounds that populate this drone-like universe. There is almost an organic feel here that sits alongside more inorganic sounds. What those sounds are, I do not know but their mystery is intriguing.

Pjusk has produced three EP’s this year that have three very different feels to them. Each one is unique and all are exceptionally good. Shibuya’s club feel is exquisite and, unlike most electronic club albums, escapes anything derivative which the genre tends to produce. It is mature, deep, and creative. Vals is seductively avant-garde, giving the listener a taste of their larger works while providing new, provocative material. Skylus is a masterwork of experimental electronica highlighting a community of artists from across the globe and in very different cultural contexts. Drawing artists from Canada to China, this EP is exceptional and should captivate the attentive listener who ought to cogitate on the many textures and aural pleasures found here. Pjusk has really given listeners various and mature treats during this last year and I hope to hear more in 2017.

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