Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Dyr Faser – “Phantom Electric” Review and Interview

There’s something slightly religious about Dyr Faser. As I type this, listening to their new album through headphones which may have melted into my ears, there’s a towering, churchy, immoveability to their music. Guitar riffs punch you in the chest, rise to the rafters and circle back down to slap you about the chops. Economical, effective and chastening. Their songs rarely end up resembling the form they materialised from and have that alluring quality which makes you think: “how did you come up with this?”. One crazed mind to could concoct strange, mismatched melodies perhaps but for two to synchronise and spit out such mutated children is just plain weird.

Dyr Faser are multi-instrumentalists Eric Boomhower and Amelia May – trios are so passé. Beyond the droning synths, bowed guitars and flutes, they’ve added drums to their sound, which one might think is working backwards – in fact, it is working backwards and that’s rather what make Dyr Faser so endearing. Their music is all about tone and feeling – I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever analysed their lyrics for a second, indeed, I have no idea even if they’re real words being sung, they simply melt into the maelstrom.

Over the course of well over a dozen releases, the band have often threatened to tumble fully into shoegaze, the last refuge for running out of ideas. Here, there is more of a feeling that this has been addressed – the deeply affecting wooshes of sound are more akin to the drone kings of Seattle, Earth and Sunn O))), with the singing simply an added bonus. The crashing percussion on ‘Kinghead’ sounds like some colossal beast rampaging towards you; heart pounding, cavernous gob drooling. ‘New Rule’ sounds like ‘The Twilight Zone‘ theme being attached to a giant rubber band and twanged into molten eyeballs. It’s exhilarating and disorientating with the same edge of malevolence that early Monster Magnet had. ‘Life form’ is Dyr Faser at their most 60s, all oil-soaked light bulbs and projected images of doomed operations. Their are moments of Sonic Youth but with a more inviting buffet on offer – you’d be happy to have a couple of sausage rolls at the former but you’d stay for space dust at Dyr Faser’s place.

Dyr Faser are proof that the DIY approach to music doesn’t have to mean succumbing to algorithms, pay for play or treating music as purely a hobby. You have the freedom to do what you want, without boundaries put in place by someone who wants to sell you rather than help you. From hand-drawn album covers and gig posters to bowed yawning guitars and funereal flutes, Dyr Faser remind you that with the raw energy of your imagination you can create pictures and change lives. Many people may treat music as transient flotsam and in some respects, they’re right. If you let it slip through your fingers or don’t treat the listening experience as something that you as the listener have a duty to meet the musician half-way, then you’re left with emptiness and half-caught conversations. There’s a ritual to listening to Dyr Faser and it’s worth committing to.

Interview with Dyr Faser

WB: After all these years, I’m not sure I’ve ever asked you where the band name comes from? Mis-spellings must have been common!?

The last song I wrote for my prior band in 2015 began with the words ‘animal phases’ in the lyric. And as I was searching for a name for this new endeavor I typed those words into Norwegian translation. And DYR FASER was born signifying an ending and a new beginning, which was the reality. And yeah, spellcheck causes problems. ‘Dry Fraser’ pops up a lot. Sounds like a swanky hotel bar cocktail heavy on the vermouth.

I didn’t know Eric when I first saw the name DYR FASER on a poster. It was like an alien language, visually it pulled me in and grew in meaning instead of projecting any specific genre.

WB: Talk us through the new album – are there any themes or lyrics that really show the band differently this time around?

The mysteries are even more compelling this time around. A lot of dark art themes appear and may seem dire but there’s always hope and humor in the abyss. For my part I sing many arcane phrases…’one forlorn do I belie a secrecy’ and ‘just like this song will end our time is torn asunder’ and ‘in a way it’s a way to escape’. Also, many guitar solos appear on this album along with our reccurring violin bow and flute. For guitar lovers ‘Phantom Electric’ is an entrancing spell.

I think the themes often evolve and circulate with whatever we are both/either going through, each album working as a capsule of a life-season. This fall has been tough for me, theme-wise I find myself fighting duality and trying to keep up.

WB: Band-wise, past or present, who do Dyr Faser feel an affinity with?

I relate to artists who take risks and surprise me. I like all styles of music. And I have an obsessive love of art films too. Amelia and I vibe off one another and it’s not easy to pinpoint the influences. One minute I’m listening to Miles Davis and then Norwegian black metal and then Agitation Free and then Bjork and then The Fall and then Kate Bush and it just goes on and on.

I believe DYR FASER has the strongest affinity with the Voyager Golden Records. “To the makers of music – all worlds, all times” We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.

WB: Do you feel you’re better or worse off without a label?

We’re both really protective of our sound and visual style. We like to produce the music, videos, and performances ourselves. A label could be a help to push our music but up ’til now we feel free to follow our own path. For example we toured Europe twice so far…just us and a booking agent helping out. It feels good to be DIY and live a few of our dreams.

I feel we are better off without the entire music ‘industry’. Our music isn’t exactly sellable and it’s freeing to be untethered.

WB: If money were no object, how would you package your releases?

With the same artwork created by Amelia for sure. I would love to have vinyl releases with our lyrics and any other messages we conjure up. I like cassettes too. It’s nice to just listen and not have the option to click through to the next song.

I don’t think we would package things differently, the DIY quality is personal for us and adds to the image we want for the band. It would be nice to have a packaging assistant, lol.

WB: You’ve brought drums in on this release – did you feel the new tracks needed them specifically or was it inevitable they’d make an appearance eventually?

I’ve played drums in groups in the past and have always loved playing. I set up my drum set in our living room and just pressed record. We’ve also had guest live drummers. I think the way the songs were sounding on the new album really called out for drums and not drum machine. It is the next step in our evolution…to continue this path.

Inevitable. Playing with drums changes the feelings of the songs dramatically, and Eric’s drumming has style and personality. It’s been difficult finding musicians to play with live, but I’m happy these songs were recorded with drums.

WB: Are you both music collectors? Any treasures or unexpected titles in there?

If I had not traded my William Shatner albums for some motorcycle parts I’d be slightly happier but…
I have a lot of vinyl. I really dig pulling out Jandek at the end of a long party to signal exit music for the stragglers. I treasure my Pink Floyd ‘Relics’ album with Nick Mason’s great artwork on the cover. And not that it’s so rare but my Screaming Trees ‘Uncle Anesthesia’ is a fave. Amelia bought me Larry Coryell’s ‘Spaces’ on vinyl as a gift and I truly love Larry.

Eric is the music collector. I search for the strange, Eric searches for everything. My favorites in the collection is an album by Japanese 60’s crooner, Kyu Sakamoto, and an 80’s Canadian folk singer, Stan Rogers. I also collect obscure Christmas records of popular artists, and it’s finally time to break out Beach Boys Christmas.

Daz Lawrence 




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