Norwegian cousins Sondre and Bastian Veland made waves three years ago with their debut Mantelpiece, most of which they wrote in their teens.
The duo, who are now both in their early twenties, continue to reach for the stars on their new long player. They handle the great bulk of the instruments between them, but they receive sterling assistance from Erlend Furuset Jenssen on saxophone and singer Karin Mäkiranta, who contributes her melancholy tones to the gloomy folk of Pale Summer Nails. Steven Wilson is a fan, and it’s easy to hear his influence, particularly in the more sombre and sparse tracks like Tectonic and The Red Heart. Whilst there are moments when the energy level rises, the mood remains defiantly downbeat, not unlike Wilson’s own Hand. Cannot. Erase. or Peter Gabriel at his most dystopian. Witness the lonely piano that tinkles mournfully in Porcelain Doll. Even the tracks with more propulsion, like Exit Wounds and Will It Last, speak of sadness. Music For Wastelands is a record of considerable scope and a showcase for the cousins’ composition talents. The challenge for some listeners may be that it evokes despondency and ennui all too well.