There´s a glowing red ray of light through the dark landscapes Deathprod calls on. Scenes shift. The slow movements hold on to one idea and squeeze out the essence on the road to change. Nothing appears to be hasty, and in contrast to a lot of electronic music, the human factor is very much present. The music is emotional, but never clammy. Moving, but not sentimental. It offers resistance and gives you depth. This box set shows how Helge Sten can be seen as an audio visionary with a strong sense of the organic. With a dark and firm eye he looks straight through his own sources and keep focus on his own character.
Deathprod´s burgeoning drones move relentlessy forward at glacial pace, while ominous crashing and echoes of ghostly choirs are heard from the horizon. For some it may teeter on the portentous, but it´s a vision well realised, a vast and patient music that merits its darker-than-dark packaging
The Wire (UK)
It´s almost a solemn occasion to lay hands on the pitch black box that encapsulates the latest release from Deathprod. Four discs filled with his improvisations; some old and some new. The result is a monumental release. A homage to the power of silence. Warmly recommended.
This release establishes Sten as an extremely far-seeing musician and composer. His music is composed and thoroughly prepared, and much of the material in this box set has without doubt a complex, evocative and grand character not unlike that of classical music. Considering Arne Nordheim, Bela Bartok and Gyorgy Ligete I hope that Deathprod will have his renaissance on the Norwegian filmscreen sometime in the future.
Helge Sten, known solo as Deathprod and grouped as Supersilent, has spent over 13 years stripping bare his Norwegian homeland sound: carried over winter darkness, twisted with post Tony Conrad violin scree, laid bare with glacial sense of time. His four-CD ”Deathprod” box sluggishly leaks isolationist art into pure texture. The crystalline brooding of ”Morals and Dogma”, the set's newest disc, references La Monte Young's overtones, loud quiet-scapes, and stubborn slowness. Hearing its misted outlines of distant work and drone, maybe human, maybe automated, has all the creepiness of realizing you're a voyeur among the secret lives of objects.
Village Voice (US)
This 4CD box set is cloaked in blackness, so the design team of Kim Hiorthoy and Deathprod himself didn't exactly have to perform much in the way of graphic tinkering. The Norwegian producer and sonic manipulator's music could be viewed as similarly simplistic, at least on the superficial surface. But upon repeated hearings, the ears start to dwell on the rich layers of his source material manipulations. For those who have only heard Deathprod within the cataclysmic setting of Supersilent, this box offers the chance to sink into a slower stratum, savouring spaced-out events and marvelling at almost imperceptible shifts.
BBC Online (UK)
Helge Sten, member of Supersilent and manipulator of the sonic underworld, has released a four-CD set of music composed between 1991 and 2001 as Deathprod. Three of these discs are filled with material that has either been previously unavailable or available only in painfully limited quantities. The fourth disc, “Morals and Dogma”, is Sten's latest work and is available seperately if a four-CD package is a bit too pricey. But what a beautiful package this is: summoned, bound, and forged in the midsts of Norway, this release exhibits Deathprod's skills as a producer, an engineer, and a writer. The sounds vary over the four discs, but it may be necessary to take a break from the sometimes overwhelming atmosphere of the dark and lonely places that dominate this release. “Deathprod”, though long and diverse, is an excellent introduction to Helge Sten's work. Supersilent fans may want to investigate this release as its quieter moments reveal just how central Sten can be to the band. If spending some extra cash on a box set from an slightly obscure individual doesn't make much sense, pick up “Morals and Dogma”, first. That box will definitely look more appealing, then.
An overall epic collection of dark musing, austerely brooding, mind-noodling music.
On his own, Deathprod inhabits a vacated void, the rapidly fading warmth, left after someone else has left. It's a landscape of drones from the resonant frequencies of megaliths, uprighted for reasons long forgotten; ocean depth bass pressures that Bill Laswell would like to make if only he could sit still. Scandinavia is infamous for the lunatic nihilistism of its Death Metal fringe. It has also produced the absolute sine-wave abstraction found on early Finnish Sahko releases. Deathprod marries them and merges them into a music so inert, so heavy it cannot move. But it sucks you in. Music for those for whom Sunn 0))) are too pop; elegies for dying stars; ambient for the core of black holes. It's not for your average Franz Ferdinand fan then, and at times, liable to send even the moderately adventurous running, screaming. But for those of a certain ear and certain endurance Deathprod is dangerously and compulsively essential: elegiac and ominous, organically detailed and glacially impervious, time-bending and beautiful and heavy as fuck.
Deathprod's music also resonates with the work of early Faust, the gestural paintings of Franz Kline, the outsider music of Nurse With Wound and the isolationist ambience of Thomas Koner. Pieces generally alternate between stark solidity and the darkly ethereal. With the former Deathprod successfully resists the impulse to embellish, with the latter he gradually applies and dissolves dark clouds of sound, like some sort of vaporous alchemist. The most active pieces are also the least easily defined, they're the ones characterised by cloudform, event edges blurred by the sonic equivalent of sea mists or dense aquatint. This music is saturnine without falling into misanthropy; look elsewhere for dissimulation, Deathprod's music is a rare, alternately invigorating and haunting experience.
Signal To Noise (UK)
If, at times, I'm still not sure what Sten is doing I'm happy to leave those details to people who want to know the technical aspects of a recording. I've simply enjoyed 4 cds full of mysterious, imaginatively realised landscapes that open and allow the listener to discover their distinctive features time and again.
The release of ”Morals & Dogma” alone is unequivocally one of the major events of the year. Despite having his name attached to many projects, Helge Sten's solo work remains truly at the centre of his work and appears to define the basis for the rest of his contributions. The boxset helps getting a understanding of the importance of his music and of his influence on the contemporary Scandinavian music scene, and provides a truly unique opportunity to contemplate the progression of one of the most talented sound artists of his generation. 5/5.
Designer Kim Hiorthøy‚s brilliant black-on-black packaging provides the perfect home for this collection of mind-bending art. While Deathprod has proven himself to be an engaging improvisor with death-jazzers Supersilent and a talented engineer, he is clearly most at home hovering in his studio allowing his virus to chew away at a world of unsuspecting sound.
Housed in a matte black box devoid any significant markings and packaged in digipacks of nearly the same quality, the Deathprod boxset looms like a mini-monolith from the movie ”2001”. One could even view it as a sort of visual representation of Sten's famous "audio virus," a black box (hole) that swallows pure sound and releases it somewhere, anywhere in a completely altered form. Out of the 4CDs in the set, I'd have to say that my favorites are easily ”Treetop Drive” and ”Morals And Dogma”, but there are so many great moments located within the set that it's hard to pick them all out. As mentioned above, this is deep, dark listening, and even though this is what many would consider minimal music, there's by no means a shortage of things going on within. This will be on my year-end list.
Four CD's document the sound of Deathprod, the solo project from the Oslo-based electronic producer Helge Stein. Suffice it to say this set doesn't rely on songs you can sing by heart: Mr. Stein loves to summon up thick, often ominous clouds of sound, gesturing at everything from avant-garde composition to black metal without ever quite revealing his hand. Highlights include the seductive (and, needless to say, ultra-obscure) 1994 "Treetop Drive" album, a tremulous collaboration with the violinist Hans Magnus Ryan, as well as "Imaginary Songs From Tristan da Cunha," a wild adventure in "ethnographic surrealism" (according to the liner notes), where ominous hums and an eerie female choir eventually give way to a truly unexpected noise: applause.
New York Times (US)
While unified in funereal spirit, each piece exudes distinct character: “Tron” plunges the listener into a deep haze of industrial churnings and ghostly choirs, dissonant violin scrapings hover suspendedly in “Orgone Donor” and the aptly titled “Cloudchamber” unfurls reverberantly. But the eighteen-minute meditation “Dead People's Things” remains the album's tour de force. Underlaid by a lulling base of electrical hum, Sten conjures an epic mood of mournful grandeur through the contrapuntal interweave of a violin's sawing strings and a harmonium's theremin-like tones. Paradoxically hermetic and boundless, ”Morals and Dogma” sounds unique among 2004's releases.