Release Date: Jun 2, 2014
Record label: The Leaf Label
Genre(s): Electronic, Ambient, Electronica, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, IDM
There is something dark and sinister in the atonal chords of Roll the Dice. I take a break from listening and double-check if it is the very same group which I discovered back in 2011, when the second full length by Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt, titled In Dust, was picked up by the Leaf Label. Indeed, it appears that the duo has gravitated away from the pitch-bent circuit-manipulated analogue-synth cosmic voyage to a more down-to-earth, organic, orchestral and out-right ominous sound.
Peder Mannerfelt and Malcolm Pardon aren't lacking ambition. The Swedish duo's new album as Roll The Dice is the third in a series that's chronicled the full sweep of Western civilisation over the last two centuries, from the agrarian existence evoked on their self-titled debut, through the Industrial Revolution on 2011's In Dust, to the late-capitalist society of Until Silence. If that sounds like an epic documentary series, their music is the soundtrack to match, and now more so than ever, with their usual piano and synth set-up augmented by a 26-piece string ensemble.
Swedish electronic duo Roll the Dice began their work with a concept of keeping their music staunchly analog and as organic as possible. This meant no programmed drum machines, no digital editing, no computers or anything of the like, resulting in electronic music played the same way some of the early greats of the genre approached it. Echoes of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream were definitely audible in their self-titled 2010 album, and In Dust, a full-length that followed the next year, took things to even darker places.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Until Silence by Roll the Dice sounds like a soundtrack to the Bioshock video game series. It's almost impossible to listen to this record having played any of the games in the Bioshock series without thinking that certain moments perfectly suit soundtracking a homicidal maniac's rovings around an underwater city (Rapture) or city in sky (Columbia).
Roll the Dice are systematic composers. Their tracks have measurable, regular rhythms, and build in steady increments. It’s also easy to see their constituent parts, and how each one fits into the whole. On the one hand, this puzzle-like intricacy has long shown the Swedish duo as patient and dedicated songwriters, but it also makes for music that can feel stilted and un-dynamic.
Despite having a limited sonic palette, Stockholm duo Roll The Dice have crafted two studio albums worth of rich, monolithic music. Many have cited Tangerine Dream as a clear key influence, and the racing arpeggiated synths on almost every track on the duo's first two albums were indeed often stunningly reminiscent of an updated - and far darker - version of Froese, Franke and co's stadium-filling heyday with Virgin records in the mid-1970s. With Until Silence they shed that skin, and Roll The Dice's full maturation sees an emerging voice all of their own.
Roll the Dice’s last album, In Dust, hinged on dualities of tension and release, vastness and intimacy, and space and density. The duo of composer Malcolm Pardon and electronic producer Peder Mannerfelt hit upon a sound that, while gorgeous and bucolic, was rich in narrative drama and suspense, with the overarching arc of music and intricate textural detail always complementing one another rather than threatening to drown the other out. On this, their third album, those strengths still come into play, but the sound is fuller, richer and more dynamic than before.