Album of the Day: Tomas Nordmark, “Eternal Words”

Tomas Nordmark’s immersive electronic sculptures feel like time-lapse photos of technological decay. Throughout Eternal Words, Nordmark employs the phase shifting principle first pioneered by Steve Reich in his tape loop experiments in the ‘60s. Reich was invested in process music, where the listener should be alert to gradual changes, and across Eternal Words, Nordmark uses slow harmonic changes to create a bigger, busier picture.

There’s a lot to chew on: Layers and layers of bleeps, drift, and drone bring to mind Laurie Spiegel’s Unseen Worlds. Nordmark creates his own sonic language that relies heavily on textures, from the lacerating noise of “Words” to the jittery ambience of “Days” and “Speaking,” a blissful trip anchored by a bone-rattling celestial drone.

But for all of Nordmark’s canny synthetic world-building, Eternal Words has a human core; the album was inspired by Mark Fisher’s “spectres of lost futures,” and is partly based on ancient Scandinavian music and sacred hymns. “Human” marries frenzied pizzicato with a far-off bass drum, “Eternal” sounds like a scrambled conversation between two AIs, while “Future” warns of a portentous force spinning out of control.

The Swedish-born, London-based Nordmark studied Audio Culture and Contemporary Art in Sweden, and throughout Eternal Words, his multi-dimensional songs are refracted through an aesthete’s lens. The fact that the album was produced by a single digital synth and sound processor celebrates electronic music’s potential to use just a handful of elements to create dense, thought-provoking art.

-April Clare Welsh

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