1000 Island by DaufødtRelease date: September 18, 2020
Label: Fysisk Format
Twelve tracks. Twenty-eight minutes. Norwegian quartet Daufødt are a force to be reckoned with. A force of nature.
With no prior releases, aside from some teaser singles throughout 2019 for this album, the band have presented their debut LP, 1000 Island, to an altogether unsuspecting world, a world not ready whatsoever for their intense, raw hardcore punk attack.
Daufødt present themselves as a four-piece band who state that the majority of their members grew up in the Norwegian Bible belt (a part of Norway that stretches along their Southwestern coast). They use their band as a fierce rejection of and ultimately a liberation from such suffocating views. A rallying cry against all forms of authority that wish to impinge upon individual self-determination. It directly fuels the vast, seemingly endless dark reservoir of energy displayed throughout the album.
The band have already created quite a mystique in their home country’s music scene, with gigs already selling out quickly, gig posters featuring their iconic artwork being collected and their sets going down as nothing short of legendary. Front-woman Annika Linn Verdal Homme is the visual artist behind the stunning album artwork and the vast majority of imagery associated with the band, as well as being the member most often cited for embodying a Valkyrian stage command. Blood, swear, hair, sinew; love, hate, joy and camaraderie. Quintessentially punk.
Daufødt is Norwegian for ‘stillborn’. An evocative name in their native tongue, for sure, but somehow it feels like it may hit in the international scene more, as, once one learns of the translation, it further contextualises the four-piece. This is a young band not messing around, impatient to impart their message – and that message being carried through their art, from front to back. The band is filled out by Eirik Albrethsen Reithaug on guitar, backing vocals and the mysteriously named C O R P S E; Eskild Myrvoll on bass, backing vocals, guitar, synthesizers and “noise” and Mads Antonsen Gerzic on drums/percussion, piano/keyboards and backing vocals, too. Alongside Annika, the four create a vital, visceral unholy racket for just shy of half an hour.
Listening to 1000 Island for the first time immediately reminded me of when I stumbled across Münster’s Jungbluth a handful of years ago. Goosebumps. A band doing what they do with 100% commitment, belief and no compromise, capturing some amazing performances to tape during recording sessions, and, in this instance, delivered unto the music community at just the right time. The epitome of lightning in a bottle.
The band kicks things off with ‘Feil’ (‘Error’), starting as they mean to go on. This track, sub ninety seconds, is a violent enough shake awake and call to action to give you whiplash. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the slap around the face Converge’s famous Jane Doe opener ‘Concubine’ gave to me all those years ago. ‘Ingenmannsland’ (‘No Man’s Land’) swiftly follows, slightly more tuneful and with a raging stomping beat that makes you want to tear something apart. It’s worth noting early on that the album was recorded almost entirely live and it was, without question, the correct decision. This albums feels close enough to touch, close enough to feel the electricity in the air. The only overdubs performed seem to have been performed on the gang backing vocals, with these done with the minimum amount of intrusion or fuss.
‘Nå Rakner Alt’ (‘Now Everything is Falling Apart’) is another feral track, scratching at an invisible, but very real foe. The band sound as if in a blur, whirring along in another impressively passionate performance during ‘Gitar Hero’, but it is Annika who so often truly stands out. Like it or not, she will surely become the de facto talisman of Daufødt. Her vocals are so impassioned, yet so well controlled and flawlessly executed, that they often defy belief during many standout moments during 1000 Island’s short runtime. Take the eponymous track, the longest on the record. ‘1000 Island’ is one of the most structurally demanding of the songs on the LP, pivoting greatly in terms of dynamism and pace, yet Annika’s vocals seamlessly crackle and spit over the top. The song finishes up with some wonderful keyboard work that adds to both a paradoxical sense of fun and tension at the same time.
Following this, we are given what (on paper) might be deemed a moment of respite. However, in truth, this segue is the most horrifying moment on the record. This sub-minute long nightmare fuel would not sound out of place as the intro to a far bleaker noise track from someone like Primitive Man, yet somehow – against all the odds and any sense – it works and seems to nestle quite happily within 1000 Island’s track-list. [Side note: on Bandcamp the track is listed as being called ‘If I Were a Boy’ (in English), whereas on the copy for review it is down as ‘Den Hurtigste Af 200 Millioner Sædceller’, or ‘The Fastest of 200 Million Sperm Cells’. If that’s intentional, then I doth my cap, because I find that hella funny…]
Due to its ‘otherness’, the interlude does still do its job of acting as wiping the slate clean – allowing a tabula rasa effect to be achieved – enabling Daufødt to almost ‘start again’ with ‘Sammen er vi Daufødt’, another track that has an intriguing double-meaning. Could it be a punk clarion call, a statement of intent of them as a band? – ‘Together We Are Daufødt’. Or, are the band using their name for its darker meaning and resonant metaphor, ‘Together we are stillborn’? Either way, the track is another impassioned hardcore punk track, that ends in waves of warm noise, before launching into next track, and first single, ‘Forbudte Frukter’ (‘Forbidden Fruits’). It’s an absolute banger, with some amazing musicianship and simply divine bass, proving that despite their raw punk approach, there’s some real talent underlying the songwriting going on. I can see Daufødt moving forward, extrapolating and elaborating on a lot of the different paths illuminated briefly on 1000 Island, and doing so with true aplomb. It’s exciting to hear here and will be equally exciting to be able to trace future records back to this impressive album that is redolent with ideas.
‘Resept’ (‘Prescription’) is a track that changes tack, slower and more measured. The band let both their instruments and the vocals have greater breathing room than the caustic, intense, frenzied approach of much of the album thus far. It builds into a righteous crescendo by the end, but once again the quartet show another impressive side to their character. No more so is this truer than on ‘K U L T U R A R V E N’ (‘Cultural Heritage’) – a mash up of their more typical sound and the noise track discussed before. Yet another sounds the band can, and hopefully will, explore later on in their career. Here Daufødt sound like a hardcore punk band collaborating with someone like Margaret Chardiet of Pharmakon. It’s perhaps not quite so paintstrippingly sour as the New Yorker’s iridescent work, but it’s a bold marriage that works extremely well.
The album is then brought home by the pairing of ‘4536 Liberstad’ and ‘Et Eller Annet Radikalt’ (‘One or Other Radical’). The former is a pummelling track. Although one should surely be used to this by now, Daufødt contain multitudes and such vibrancy, that each track hits in a similar but altogether different way. Impressive.
The closing track seems to sum up both the band and the motivations of the album, perfectly, raging, as it does, against those who never question authority, the status quo, or are susceptible and comfortable in groupthink. Not only exasperated at that, but also angry at the fact that this complacency can be the reason why more extreme, radical ideas can find a platform and be quickly normalised. It’s extremely powerful, and with its hardcore punk DNA and youthful exuberance, will provide a true a shot in the arm for any listener – particularly needed this year, when we have all had to deal with so much awful news and ridiculous, insipid leadership, that many have become understandably too exhausted to argue and fight. Yet argue and fight we clearly must, and 1000 Island is your soundtrack to getting back up and out and fighting the power.
The album was mixed by Kim Lillestøl (Kvelertak, DumDum Boys) at Amper Tone and mastered by Ruben Willem (Haust). Both Kim and Ruben have been extremely sympathetic to the quartet’s live performance – quite rightly letting that statement be largely untouched. Daufødt’s debut announces a major new name in hardcore punk. I just hope they can bring their message and their live show to the rest of Europe (and beyond) as soon as possible, because this must RIP in a small venue. Daaaaamn.
1000 Island is a highly, highly recommended album and although not quite a tonic to this year from hell, surely the energy boost needed to not take it lying down, to get up and scream in condemnation, in disbelief or just in sheer frustration.