Since going solo in 2019, Janus Rasmussen has been on a deeply personal journey and no other release expresses just how far he’s come along on that path as Slóð does. After having made a name for himself in celebrated collaborative endeavours, from the electronic pop quartet Bloodgroup to his output as one half of the duo KIASMOS, alongside Ólafur Arnalds, the Faroese producer has retreated into his own inner world, experimenting with new sounds and styles in his debut solo album Vín and EP Blóð since. But whereas these prior releases investigated the musician’s newfound liberties as a solo artist, Slóð, which means ‘path’ in Faroese, sets out a clear direction forward.
Spanning a palette that ranges from exhilarating electro to ominous techno, it might not seem that the tracks on Slóð have much in common on a first listen. But hidden beneath the panoply of instruments and field recordings is a constant impetus to trespass, “There was this sense of wanting to break free from my own rules of what music I usually make and be surprised by the outcome,” says Rasmussen. The desire has been translated into three of the hardest-hitting tracks the musician has ever put out, as always elegantly polished by the sleek production he’s become famous for. The opening track, Ærð is a masterclass in sophisticated transitions, with the piece moving from melodic piano keys to big-sounding synths, to shakers and percussions of all kinds seamlessly. Constructing such a smooth journey was not all that effortless, however, as Rasmussen saw himself working with the Juno 60 and Jupiter 4 synthesisers, both old-school instruments that provide the track’s warm and retro touch, but known for their inconsistent performance that yields unpredictable sounds. “It’s both frustrating and astonishing to use old equipment in the studio,” he notes. The process required patience and a knack for improvisation, both skills Rasmussen honed during his childhood when he worked with primitive software on constantly crashing computers for his first-ever productions.
The title of the three tracks on Slóð also allude to Rasmussen’s formative years – Ærð, Hegn and Slóð, mean ‘vein’, ‘fence’ and ‘path’ respectively in his native Faroese. The three names, alongside the album’s cover art, call to mind certain linearity as if Rasmussen was referring to the trajectory that brought him to where he is today. But as much as Slóð is a logical next step in Rasmussen’s journey, the EP also seems to break with the path set in front of him, creating a new musical language that feels more confident now than ever before, “It has opened up a new world for me,” says the producer. The track Hegn hints at what might be coming next. It’s Rasmussen’s first techno tune – a driving track with a progressively intense and assertive mood. Likewise, the closing track Slóð is filled with boldness. The track sets out with the ambitious goal of weaving different instruments and musical styles that build and evolve into one another in a singular cohesive journey. The track and the EP itself prove Rasmussen’s artistry in just that; synthesising a wide range of experiences in a musical adventure like no other.