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Sketch | Zincanode (Racing Junior)
The track listing of Sketch's latest album looks like a page torn from a badly translated U-boat drama ?? Cliff! Fine! Drown! Kaiser! Marine! - and the music itself has an underwater quality. Deep tones and clicks and whirs and the occasional lonely bubble making its way to the surface. It's true headphone music. Only when the sounds are pressed up to your ear do the nuances and shifts become apparent. Sketch is made up of two Norwegians, Tor Jorgensen and Kai Mikalsen, who have been working together since 1987 and have, I would guess, figured out a way to know what kind of beeps to add to the other's whirs. 'Zincanode' unfolds slowly but are there are moments of excitement amidst the flow of ambience. A skittering beat emerges in the middle of the plodding Drown and carries it through to the end of the track and there's a beautiful, chugging backbeat that surges to the front of the earphones to weave in an out of the sound of a steam engine's whistle a few minutes into the closing track Ying. Never bombastic or over-simplified, Sketch show the commendable attribute of restraint and give the change to their songs, their album and their tone to evolve quietly but never without engagement over the length of a fine album.

Craig Taylor
November 2001