ALBUM REVIEW: Aiming For Enrike – ‘Empty Airports’

Artwork for Aiming For Enrike’s ‘Empty Airports’ - warped colours overlaid with blocks of solid orange

Making short attention spans care is the instrumental musician’s toughest act, but not a problem for the exciting Oslo duo Aiming For Enrike. While the group’s second record is not only their most spacious and experimental, but a double one at that, it veers away from their plinky-plonk psych-garage rock territory (Don’t Hassle The Hoff) to craft a storyboard worthy of the ‘epic’ trope.

Upping their electronica game, exercises in King Crimson prog and sparse arrangements mark a confident foray into ambience that’s apparent from the very first note. Speaking of, its initial three tracks make up the Empty Airports suite. Not like a ground level business lounge suite, not even a sky-high experience, the vast soundscape reaches higher. For just two instrumentalists at work, in a word, it’s large.

(Part 1) is a teasing two-minute volume swell, a beckoning hand into the hazy, seductive noise of (Part 2). Guitar effects mimic Moogs and other synthesisers, with slowed acid house beats enveloping more and more elements. Moody bass swells add the ominous feel of discovering an alien landscape, while (Part 3) allows those echoes to reverberate, coming to terms with the newness of the surroundings. The sense of adventure gallops along with Tobias Ørnes Andersen’s drums.

Once you’re in, there’s no getting out. And no one in space can hear you scream! But luckily on The Rats And Their Children, the duo make the otherworldly more delightful. Speeding things up a notch, there’s neat little taps that eat through the piece; sound-strobes flicker around what a vacant airport silent disco might feel like. Feel No Threat / Absent Lovers is for the psychedelic neck-noodlers. Against a thumping tom tom-friendly backdrop, Simen Følstad Nilsen’s tone blends metallic riffs with the atmospheric echoes of preceding tracks. With their feet fully on the gas in bursts, it’s 12 minutes of dynamic change, with all the purpose of the first half’s introduction.

The gradual building Slopes begins the second side, warm and inviting like mixing eggs into flour gradually for a smooth and satisfactory pasta dough. Washed out guitar chords play out over a softly drummed beat which comes in and out when called upon. For dance fans, its jaunty two-step fade out feels like a missed opportunity, while a similarly short-lived head bopping outro features in The Castle where bass booms and glitchy throttles are more evident.

That hypnotic and stressful theme runs into the mysterious, jostling and frightening Square Machine, while System 0 features bubble noises and low frequency blips that fizz intensely with each other. Aiming For Enrike hold back their 17-minute Pulse Fragments saga for last, a patient and bewildering journey into the ether.

Ambitious, and clearly painstakingly textured, it’s a delightful immersion. Ears get dragged this way and that across its kaleidoscope of sound, and even in its dark sci-fi moments, an ever-appearing beat nags you to get your dance shoes on for a frolic through strange and sublime liminal spaces, Empty Airports included.

For fans of: John Hopkins, Three Trapped Tigers, Pantha du Prince

‘Empty Airports’ by Aiming For Enrike is released on 20th January on Jansen Records.

Words by Elliot Burr

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