Both as a private enjoyer of music and an online reviewer of said medium, I’m always in favor of purposeful quiet music. You know, the kind that’s gentle on the ears because it wants to be, needs to be. It often comes in the form of ambient music, sometimes laced with traces of other musical avenues of expression, and yet that’s hardly representative of the full picture we’re looking at. Enter Paw Grabowski aka øjeRum, a Copenhagen-based visual artist and musician, whose output bridges the divide between minimalist folk and lo-fi dark ambient.

He has been amassing an astonishing backlog of releases since at least 2015, in which year he unveiled the début øjeRum record Frav​æ​rsminder. The aesthetic he forges in both sound and picture is gentle but eerie, unnerving despite its soft-footed demeanor. Personally, I’m taken aback by the elements of body horror, yet drawn back in by the beauty of the sparse, enigmatic musical ideas Grabowski presents.

Today’s premiere of “Soft Pastel Tongue” comes in the run-up to the release of Coiled Souls, his upcoming album for Roman Numeral Records, which will see the light of day on February 24 as a limited-edition vinyl package. Not to spoil anything beforehand, I will leave you with the song in question for now, and we can reconvene once you’ve had your fill.

On Coiled Souls, øjeRum exists in a form shaped around soft-spoken, bittersweet acoustic songs thriving in minimalism and lo-fi aesthetic. The ten songs on the record are centered around the guitar and voice, alongside the shifting isolation of the room, revealing a truly personal and honest representation of the artist himself.

This quote, taken from the press kit accompanying my foray into Coiled Souls via the album’s fourth track “Soft Pastel Tongue”, reveals this song to be the perfect first glimpse at its album mater. There is a surprising warmth to the sound Grabowski expands upon over these 4:34 minutes – surprising in contrast to the unsettling artwork, that is. But I suppose that’s the duality that sits at the core of his øjeRum project. Be that as it may, “Soft Pastel Tongue” develops a softly hypnotic pull over repeated listens (yours truly must’ve already looped it enough to need additional fingers to count with by now), its minimal set-up of guitar, voice, and reverberations allowing it to engross you without needing any grand musical gestures.

Loss and disquiet exist side by side with warmth and solace in the world of øjeRum, which leaves me quite intrigued by the prospect of his upcoming Coiled Souls full-length. This kind of ambiguous aesthetic definitely has its own distinct charm, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t fall for it. As I said earlier, Coiled Souls will be out on February 24 via Roman Numeral Records. You can pre-order it via the label’s Bandcamp presence or their own website. Be sure to also keep up with Grabowski’s various artistic endeavors by following øjeRum on social media (Facebook | Instagram).

Dominik Böhmer

Dominik Böhmer

Pretentious? Moi?

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