“Juv is Norwegian and similar to the English word abyss, it means a sort of bottomless hole, that deep space between two mountain walls or inside a deep underground cave. It also brings to mind the echoing and reverberation of sound” - Juv, 2010.
From its icy opening tones, something at once familiar and unsettling rises from this sound; the stark, doom-laden ambience of Juv’s desolate sonic landscapes transport the listener to an altogether darker world. Hailing from Norway, the duo of Are Mokkelbost & Marius Von Der Fehr recorded these tracks in Norway between 1996 and 1998. Soon after however, their friendship abruptly ended and the planned Juv album was never finished. Only recently did the duo return to complete the work, dissecting and selecting pieces and excerpts from the recordings, finally bringing closure to the project, and in the process rekindling their friendship. Now this lost gem is finally given its first official release, finding a home on Erik Skodvin’s entirely appropriate Miasmah imprint.
“The music that was influential for us in the late 90s was the sampler-derived minimalism of Deathprod, the microtonal music of Giacinto Scelsi and Tony Conrad and the minimal works of groups such as Swans, Neurosis, Sonic Youth, Codeine and the Melvins. It was only when I got into experimental black metal and doom many years later, and especially the minimal and atmospheric work of bands such as Paysage D´Hiver, Brenoritvrezorkre, Sunn O))), as well as Burzum, that I started seeing the musical connection to Juv.” – Are Mokkelbost.
Juv create a stunning sound of desolation - not so much melancholy, but more a sinister, oppressive undertone. It seems to communicate some form of approaching menace, via transmissions (or warning signals perhaps), from another bleak dimension. A combination of instruments were used, treated and mutated from their former recognizable sounds, added to which were excerpts from hours of field recordings made throughout Europe, completing the body of the work. The pieces were recorded with a multi tracker and sampler, mixed down straight to tape, with little in the way of additional finessing.
“This music is one of expectancy and apathy, longing and mourning – made with the limited means of lost youth." – Are Mokkelbost.
Sombre tones flow like lifeblood through Juv’s work; underlying squeals of pain, abrasive bursts of metallic guitar drones, atonal lo-fi meanderings, the occasional cosmic-chant, all blurred by a rumbling dirge of noise. The coldness of the recordings do indeed recall the approaches of Norway’s most controversial musical export, black metal. Other reference points brought to mind (which Juv’s work either predates, ignores, or at least without acknowledgement, runs in parallel with), might be the New York no-wave noise of Carlos Giffoni’s solo outbursts, the guitar mangling of GOWN (Sunburned / Bark Haze), the experimentation of Sunn O))), and as always, the suitably understated musical narrative, which flows throughout the Miasmah releases to date.
The stark front cover image of a mountain on the Lofoten islands in the far north of Norway, in the process of being eclipsed by another mountain, conveys the weight and perhaps the intent of Juv in creating these tracks. Given part of the album was recorded on location here, the music certainly seems reflective of this environment – monolithic and enshrouded in black.