Norwegian duo Smerz have released Believer, their debut album, out now via XL Recordings.
With Believer, which Motzfeldt and Stoltenberg starting working on three years ago, they formalise the boundless sonic world that started to emerge within each of their famed NTS shows: these new songs seamlessly weave together techniques and sounds pulled from chamber and classical music, hip hop, R&B, and trance, but the end product is something altogether uncanny. Working mostly on their computer, their main instrument, Motzfeldt and Stoltenberg search for something new in well-known tropes, playing with the tension between the computer’s ability to render a spectrum of sounds ranging from the organic to the wholly unnatural. “There’s this hierarchy between different styles and what is expected of different genres, but we wanted to keep them all together in this flat hierarchy to show their different potentials and abilities,” Motzfeldt says. They transplanted a classical musician’s approach to the MIDI keyboard, leaning into the plastic-sounding effects that a computer imposes on string and harp samples. “You won’t end up in the same place as a symphony, where everything sounds alive, but you’ll end up in this new place in between,” Stoltenberg says.