Wide-Ranging Denmark Debut

There is a moment on NO/1, the solo debut album by Sofus Forsberg on the Denmark-based Jenka Music label, as fine as anything released this year. Well into track three, which is titled “Autotune Track,” a little buzz shuffles its way from background into the foreground. Up until that moment the track has consisted of squiggly noises and playful beats, very much like something Aphex Twin might put his name on. That little buzz is just static, additional texture, noise. It may raise the tension a little, but it’s not so much in tune or out of tune as it is apart from the tune, like something passing by, like a fleck of dust in the eye. As soon as your ear accepts it as such, though, that noise turns into a melody very much like the melody with which the tune opened; that strange little noise warps into a strange little riff, bringing to mind nothing so much as the magical anthropomorphizing utensils in Walt Disney animated films. NO/1 is rich with such detail. There’s the deep hum on “So Alone” that can feel like a scalp massage if you’re listening on a proper pair of headphones. There’s the bouncy stereoscopic play at the start of “Venice Beach,” in which reverberating tones bound from left ear to right in a delightful syncopation. Forsberg has produced 11 fine tracks, which share an attention to memorable moments but otherwise vary widely, from heavy percussive polyrhythm to spacious drone to quiet song. When he uses acoustic instruments, like the piano at the end of “Convertible Love” or what sounds like guitar at the start of “Det Ser Vi Pa,” the sounds are lightly treated — clipped or looped — in a way that blends them perfectly into his electro-acoustic palette. He recorded most of the music himself, but there are a few guests — there’s the occasional vocal by Henriette Sennenvaldt, who has Bjork’s majestic remoteness, and there’s the occasional saxophone part by Niels Bottcher, the rare untreated analog instrument in this sea of digital sounds, and just about the only thing to suggest the record was recorded on Earth.

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