Rather than being a single person, Damien Dubrovnik is actually the alias of Danish noise duo Loke Rahbek and Christian Stadsgaard, who’ve released five albums and a slew of EPs under the name since the project’s inception back in 2009. This latest sixth album ‘Great Many Arrows’ also marks the 200th release on the duo’s own Posh Isolation label, and sees them shifting into new territory, the largely electronic backdrops of their earlier recordings now being replaced with organs, cellos, violas, wind and other acoustic instruments. While this is certainly not a noise album, the characteristic ferocity of the duo’s previous work hasn’t been subsequently tamed at all – indeed, this is easily one of their most terrifying records yet, with the comparatively accessible backings introducing a false sense of safety that’s soon punctured.
‘Arrow 1’ in many ways opens this album with its most punishing track as a lullingly hypnotic swirl of droning tones is suddenly disrupted by distorted spoken vocals that heighten in intensity as distorted brass swells against whirring electronics and high-pitched whines, the manic, almost ecstatic delivery soon descending into harsh growls as the swirling orchestral elements slide in and out of pitch nauseously. It’s easily the most confronting and unhinged sounding moment here, but in this case the ferocity of the vocal performance is balanced by a sense of widescreen grandeur.
‘Arrow 2’ treads gently at first as distantly pulsing beeps murmur against sudden explosive crashes of found sound, before the lush swirling strings trail back in, the atonal harmonics calling to mind associations with Ligeti as the distorted vocals punch through the sense of reverie like some distant distress transmission, the entire track building into a rush of howling noise at the end, as the increasingly panicked vocals seemingly get sucked away down a tunnel.
Elsewhere, ‘Arrow 4’ evokes more meditative atmospheres, offering a wander out into more minimalistic ambience as reverberating percussive tones add an almost monastic feel to the slowly cycling drones and distant wind instrumentation that plays at the very edges, before phased electronic tones start to flit through, almost like ghosts. While it’s certainly not always an easy listen, ‘Great Many Arrows’ sees Damien Dubrovnik continuing to branch out into much wander territory than their noise-based beginnings.