In the Ancient World, daemons were nature spirits that occupied a plane of being somewhere between mortals and the Gods. In the Twenty First Century, Daemons is an artist named David Officer from Stonehaven who creates music that melds the electronic with noise and field recordings. There are parallels to be drawn between these two ‘definitions’; both daemons occupy a sort of liminal area by the very ethereality of their natures, and where the more ancient daemons were nature spirits, the Daemon we speak of today attempts to capture the spirit of nature. On Fram, in particular, it is a wild and once untamed nature that Daemons translates into the sonic realm.
Inspired by Roald Amundsen and Captain Scott’s race to the South Pole, the Fram EP, in the words of Mr Officer, “encompass[es] the vast expanse of the Antarctic plateau while also capturing the tension present in both [Amundsen and Scott’s] camps.” The first two tracks on the EP, Into a Desert of Ice and Race to the Pole, manage to encapsulate the sparse, harsh atmosphere of the Antarctic without losing the listener. My attention was immediately caught by the sound of cracking ice as I imagined Amundsen’s ship, named Fram, slowly picking a route towards the pole. The sound of wind sweeping across the plateau joined together with the synths creates a slight sense of unease. This is lifted by the introduction of a lighter, more sweeping synth sound that elicits the “spirit of exploration” which David strives for throughout. Race to the Pole, driven more by rhythm, builds on this and is probably the most straightforward track on the EP with hints of fellow Scottish sound manipulators such as Errors or more-recent-Mogwai evident early on. Yet, much like the Pole explorers, Daemons definitely forges his own path, as evidenced on Providence. Opening with a field recording of gale force winds overlapped by a fast-beat, daemons “batter[s] the listener” with sinister sounds – a relentless bassline interspersed with hissing synths. There are few let-ups on the track. Heim, or ‘home’, is “an exploration of relief and regret” signalling both the end of the EP and the end of Amundsen’s quest. It sounds like a night under cold stars.
Fram was, fittingly, extremely rewarding on my first listen. The EP manages to capture a vast, cold and unwelcoming continent as well as the spirit of the men who went there first. It loses none of this on the all too brief return journeys through landscapes both natural and human. One for the long, cold nights.
Fram by daemons is out on 11th November via Bandcamp.