Scandinavian Swords II is the second compilation released by Abdulla Rashim’s Northern Electronics, succeeding Scandinavian Swords from 2015. This is, however, a far more extensive endeavor, with fourteen tracks on three vinyls. The list of contributors is also very impressive. Aside from Abdula Rashim, label regulars Varg, Dorisburg, Korridor and Acronym appear together with contributions from Art alfie, Mr tophat, Neel and several lesser-known names. Opener Metro entrance I immediately sets the mood with a dark and mechanical, yet delicate, synth lead. The track is slowly expanded with heavy acoustic bass drums and bells. One is easily reminded of the more ambient works of Burzum here, as they also convey melancholy and imminent doom in an equally serene manner. Most of the tracks on the album stay true to the atmosphere established here, though applying their own twists to it. For example, Vild Skulptur tries to remain as calm as Metro entrance I at first, as it opens with a deep and soft beat, but the desperate and dissonant wailing of the lead creates a strong feeling of unease. Even though Vild Skulptur sounds like a typical Dorisburg track, Fabian Bruhns input pushes his familiar sound into new and exiting territory.
The contributions from the lesser-known names are where the compilation really shines. Fatal presents the lo-fi Doberman at the end of side A. It is a hauntingly beautiful composition. Most of its dreamy soundscape is presented within the first ten seconds and it is essentially a three-minute loop. But the subtle hazy sounds in the background create an ambience that could have maintained interest for twice as long. CA2+’s Horizontal Boundaries on the other hand, doesn’t rely as much on atmosphere as the rest of the compilation. It is the most straightforward track and serves as a welcome break from the moody ambience and atmospheric layering that dominates the compilation. At the end of the album, Evigt mörker delivers one of the standouts. Tom Himmel starts of as a rather straightforward techno banger, but by carefully adding layers of synths Evigt Mörker manages to create an aerial track that is so much more than the sum of its parts. A master of subtle, barely noticeable shifts, he allows it to grow to a sublime peak before fading out the beat and allowing the lead to be heard in all its glory. It all serves as a testament to how criminally underrated he is.
Abdulla Rashim does not disappoint either. Though Ocean drive is no deviation from the soundscape one would expect from him, his mastery of dark textural techno is astonishing. It is a track that really benefits from home listening due to its subtle and unpredictable buildup. Korridor achieves something similar on the track Opia. Here, layers upon layers of drums and synths are added upon one another to create a track that never stops growing. It achieves an atmospheric depth that is unrivaled by the other tracks and it serves as the highlight of the compilation.
Call it a compilation or a showcase, but the coherent mood makes Scandinavian Swords II sound like an album crafted by one mind. Yet, it is still easy to attribute each track to its creator, as the individual differences are profound. Whereas most compilations often get unfocused due to their eagerness to show their diversity, Scandinavian Swords II knows exactly what it wants to achieve and how to do it. This combination of consistency and individual creativity is impressive and listening to it all as an album really enhances the experience of each track. If the intent was to showcase the vitality, versatility and beauty of the deep techno scene, Northern Electronics could probably not have performed much better than this.
1. Varg & Abdulla Rashim – Metro Entrance I 03:11
2. Rjukan – Vild Skulptur 07:31
3. Fatal – Doberman 02:59
4. Neel – Vandal 07:00
5. Acronym – Fluctuations 06:14
6. Abdulla Rashim – Ocean Drive 09:15
7. Fatal – Sabotage 04:13
8. Korridor – Opia 08:45
9. Mr. Tophat – Medical Treatment 05:00
10. CA2+ – Horizontal Boundaries 11:07
11. Art Alfie – Mariasahara 04:32
12. Varg – Silver Lake 05:09
13. Evigt Mörker – Tom Himmel 05:39
14. Varg & Abdulla Rashim – Metro Entrance II 03:47