Review: Jarl “Fragile Confrontation” CD

This full-length sees Sweden's Jarl once more offering up a number of lengthy untitled tracks that explore the bleak and disturbing realms of dark ambient experimentation. The first track runs nearly 14 minutes and builds in slowly with cascading hums and drones with distant metallic textures banging and scraping around somewhat sparsely, as a low level of distortion starts to creep into the mix and get a bit more menacing as time passes. "II" takes an even more stripped down path at the start, as more flowing waves of brooding low-end sweep in and out as vibrating throbs start to present themselves with only minor textural variations over the course of a subtle and subdued 11 minutes. A deeper and somehow more openly menacing take on a similar approach continues for nine minutes in the next piece, with a bit less movement and more of machinated sort of whirr occasionally taking place in the distance. "IV" is thinner as it starts in with a few pulsing bass tones and sort of a crumbling wisp of midrange, while a light wave of crispy distortion sinks into the deep undercurrents before things start to thin out again near the close of the eight-and-a-half-minute run. A heavily reverberated sort of ethereal ringing then beings "V", creating somewhat of a rhythmic feel that continues when a pulsing low-end throb starts in with a few sparse high-end textures as the rings fade off into the background. About three minutes in some more metallic shufflings start to break up the otherwise extremely hypnotic patterns before gradually settling into a wavering drone that carries straight into the final track. Within a minute some more of that thin, restrained distortion has started to find its way into the distance as a few more high-end tones layer in with the initial drone and thicken up just a smidge while carrying on for the seven-minute duration of the composition. The packaging is certainly on the minimal side, what with little text and only a few abstracted images of foggy, dirty textures that look like scuffed/scratched concrete or perhaps glass. So, the appearance is certainly on the rather dismal side along with the atmospheres of the music, which makes sense. As seems to be a common case for Jarl, it's somewhat as though the entire release here could technically be viewed as one complete piece whose parts happen to stand on their own quite well. However, this is a much more fluid and focused release than "Out of Balance", so while long and rather unwavering in its individual parts, this is a consistently enjoyable listen that achieves a strong sense of atmosphere throughout, so fans of minimal yet ominous dark ambient electronics should find this a worthy excursion.

Running time - 58:13, Tracks: 6
[Notable tracks: I'd say they're all relatively consistent in terms of quality]
Annihilvs -