The Berlin-based musician Hákon Aðalsteinsson, originally hailing from Iceland, can be found fronting neo-psych outfit The Third Sound and gloomy alt-country troupe Gunman & The Holy Ghost, as well as being the live guitarist for The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Anton Newcombe’s ongoing collaborations with Tess Parks. Now, Hákon is also turning his attention to another project: an electronics-inflected solo endeavour going by the name of Diagram. His debut album under the new moniker, titled Transmission Response, is out tomorrow via Fuzz Club and BSM are pleased to bring you the premiere streaming.
Detailing the self-recorded album, a marked departure from his usual rock-oriented work, Hákon explains: “The sound is inspired by the minimalism of Suicide, Chrome and 70s German electronica, as well as the film music of Angelo Badalamenti and John Carpenter,” he continues: “In the beginning I had this one beat-up keyboard and limited knowledge of making electronic music so I was just learning as I went. As this was a process of exploration I ended up with around 40 song ideas before I even thought about making an album. After deciding I wanted to take things further I set upon the task of reworking all those ideas and cutting a lot of them to put together a record that worked as a whole, and this is the result.”
Clocking in at twelve tracks, Transmission Response is an album that veers into countless different territories. Tracks like ‘Electroconclusive’ and ‘Dark Omen’ are dark and foreboding, consumed by throbbing industrial noise, and ‘All Night’ and ‘Remove The Veil’ deal in mechanical proto-punk that falls somewhere between Suicide, Neu! and The Jesus & Mary Chain. But, the album has less intense moments too: ‘Radione’ and ‘Gateway’ could be plucked right off the Blade Runner score, ‘In My Heart, In My Soul’ is a piece of gloomy oscillating dream-pop and ‘Eisern Union’ is a transcendental Krautrock freak-out that doubles up as an ode to FC Union Berlin. Other stand-out moments include ‘Go To Pub’, which sees Mark E Smith’s famous ‘guide to writing’ monologue, originally broadcast via radio in 1983, played against unsettling, glitchy electronics and the disjointed synthscape of ‘Panic Evoked’ which is in a similar vein to Oneohtrix Point Never and Blanck Mass.
Always one to immerse himself in new projects, Hákon Aðalsteinsson’s new material as Diagram witnesses him enter a whole new world – one that’s just as capable of being intense and challenging as it is cinematic and euphoric.