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Enigmatic Swedish post-psych band Den Der Hale are known for their boundary-pushing soundscapes. The group are currently gearing up to release their highly anticipated second album, Pastoral Light, on February 2nd via FatCat Records. This album showcases the band's ability to meld diverse creative inspirations into a seamless and experimental sonic journey, transcending genres and defying conventions.
Den Der Hale was formed in 2019 by Pontus Lindskogen (guitar, vocals), Max Bredberg (guitar), Axel Nelson (drums), Mimosa Baker (synth, vocals), and Ejner Trenter (bass). Operating from various rehearsal spaces in Malmö, the band quickly gained recognition in Scandinavia with a series of singles, followed by their debut album, Harsyra, in 2021.
Their unique fusion of folk-inspired kraut, gritty psych, and post-rock led to the band’s creation of the term "post-psych" which perfectly encapsulates their distinctive sound. Itinerant rhythms and atonal melodies are filtered through heavy effects, harsh layers of noise are contrasted by animate bass lines and propulsive percussions. In this seemingly chaotic amalgam, there is always a red line, and often each musical output becomes a synthesis, a whole.
Overall, Pastoral Light was inspired by the proliferation of mankind and the human impact on the environment. Serving as a plea to natural forces for redemption, Pastoral Light is a profound musical journey that will leave listeners both spellbound and reflective.
The album opens with ‘A Part of Wrath and Stone’, one of the band's earliest compositions. “This is the track Pontus used to lure Ejner into the band. In many ways it is a showcase of our different musical backgrounds, with its blend of aggressive kraut, atmospheric vocals and atonal riffs,” explains the band.
Lead single ‘The Horse From Turin’ was originally inspired by Bela Tarr’s film ‘The Turin Horse’. The film’s title refers to the whipping of a horse that is rumoured to have caused the mental breakdown of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. “Originally based on an acoustic bass line, ‘The Horse from Turin’ soon grew into a beast of its own through copious jam sessions”, they say. “Thematically it began as a vague idea based on Bela Tarr’s film’, but just as the original bass line, the lyrics soon took new directions.”
Atmospheric track ‘The Frail’ was written during the band's recording process, featuring custom-made instruments and experimental soundscapes. "To achieve the eerie atmospheric drone that underpins the entire song, we wanted to create a very long bass string which could be used both percussively with a contact microphone, as well as a bow. We experimented with a steel wire which was attached to different points in a room, until we found the proper length and tension to get the correct pitch," explains the band.
‘Donkey Skin’ is another of the band's early compositions, which also takes inspiration from cinema. “The song takes its name and lyrical theme from the eponymous French film from 1970, and although it was considered to have it be a fully acoustic track, the dreamy atmosphere of the film soon bled into the songwriting, and a more effect-driven and ethereal sound was decided on,” explains Den Der Hale.
With Pastoral Light, the Swedish post-psych quintet has crafted an album that transcends the ordinary, inviting listeners to embark on a journey that delves into the intricacies of human existence and our relationship with the natural world.