The Swedish one-man project IOK-1 hasn't yet made a lot of releases. Its debut EP came out in '09, after which it took all the way to 2011 for mr. Bengtsson (also known from Bortom Reparation and Tarmskrap) to publish his first full-length under this name. The debut album "Poems" was limited to mere ten copies, so, unsurprisingly, I haven't heard it. Luckily its successor "Sensorisk Deprivation" is available as a free download of high-quality files.
Some morphed horn-sounds that slowly gain more and more volume give the album a slow and quiet start, until they vanish to give room for soft, gentle and somehow eerie analog ambient-waving. The soundscape is very dreamy and misty, aside of the occasional "fog horn" that cuts through the soundscape to create an illusion of distance. It feels like a relaxing dream with mystical entities and figures going past the listener here and there, without seeming like a threat. The song is highly relaxing and intriguing until its darker ending, which paves the way for three songs of madness.
In case you've read about sensory deprivation, you know what kind of freaky things people can experience in that state. Song two takes you there; it still carries the same dream-like and hazy feel, but everything sounds darker and more intrusive. Gentle layers of traditional analogue ambient meet darker and harsher ambient-tones, while some recorded beats and watery sounds create the feel of sinking deeper into the deprivated state. After song two's sunken the listener deeper, "Galenskap" again describes a new set of surroundings, deeper in the state. The dark, slow and minimalistic layers of ambient make the atmosphere feel more stationary, akin to not being able to move, while some small effects (muffled beats, cleaner analogue-signals...) create scary figures you simply are unable to react to. Everything's darker and more passive, but there's still depth and various tones to the ambience.
"Vansinne" opens with static crackling merging with sturdier and bolder layers of analogue-ambience, until this waving mass is left to survive on its own. The mass of sound with a strong pulse has a distinctive hint of noisiness in it, and although it seems safe at first, is slowly begins to resemble a soundtrack to a horror movie. An ominously brooding atmosphere remains present without stating its motives, and some panning drone-effects make the song even more disturbing. This reminds me of some horror-scenes where a person is certain s/he's being watched or followed, and even the tiniest sounds start to sound hostile. The album doesn't have a happy ending.
"Sensorisk Deprivation" is a great album in its minimalistic yet very effective simplisticity, which, as you might've noticed above, certainly made a impact on me. The sounds and details are subtle, yet they create a great impact. Same goes for the ambience; some of it might sound usual at times, but the artist's great sense of style and him dividing the album into four thematic parts make it all work. The sounds don't have the time to wear out their charm and character, and everything sounds surprisingly professional.
Similar to the music, the cover artwork looks simple and safe at first glance - but if you give them your focus and look at them for longer, they'll start looking back at you. "Sensorisk Deprivation" is rather theme-oriented and overall something not crafted for casual listening, so it might initially take some digging to understanding what it's going for. Headphones are recommended for maximum effect, as it's then when the panning details get to shine.