ERLAND DAHLEN: Blossom Bells LP/CD Hubro

erlanddahlen

ERLAND DAHLEN: Blossom Bells LP/CD Hubro

This is Dahlen’s second album, which follows on from his debut, ‘Rolling Bomber’. Opening up with ‘Snake’, we have a varying degree of backwards electronics and light percussion, which is pleasant enough in its approach.

Tempo is increased on ‘Pipe’ that draws on Space Rock aesthetics, with a spangle-ridden mash up of rhythms and instrumentation; not entirely my bag, but well constructed none-the-less. ‘Knife’, ‘Iron’, ‘Hammer’ and the title track come off best, with a varying degree of ambient and Krautrock splashes of sound. The latter holding a mysterious aura and is by far the best track on the album.

There isn’t anything on this release that is bad; in fact it’s constructed and performed professionally to a tee. There is an impressive array of instrumentation used on ‘Blossom Bells’ and not once do you feel that Erland is biting off more than he can chew. Musically as stated before though, this is not for me; but I do appreciate just how well this has been pieced together.

7.8/10

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MONKEY PLOT: Angående omstendigheter som ikke lar seg Nedtegne LP/CD Hubro

monkeyplot

MONKEY PLOT: Angående omstendigheter som ikke lar seg Nedtegne LP/CD Hubro

The Norwegian trio of musicians that is Monkey Plot have produced 12 tracks here; that for the most part, make for an interesting, if not sparse debut. Playing on space and subtlety in key changes, gives the listener space to breathe in the natural analogue sounds of percussion, double bass and guitar.

There is an intimacy to the songs as a whole and one, which the band openly term as “music for small spaces”; and this is quite apt. Over the course of the album you do feel however, that most of the tracks sound like warm-ups to an actual show; and nothing ever really kicks off.

There is a wonderfully grass roots earthly feel to the music and it does feel home-grown and real, like it was recorded in a ramshackle wooden hut in the middle of nowhere. Occasionally there are infusions that teeter on the edges of Jazz; and indeed, it was of no surprise to learn they won ‘Young Jazz Musicians of the Year” in 2014 in their native country.

For me however there is more to this lot that Jazz alone, maybe because of its improvisational yet structured nature (most Jazz for me has no structure). A peculiar release that isn’t exactly up my street but is inoffensive overall.

7.5/10

LABFIELD: Bucket of Songs CD Hubro

labfield

LABFIELD: Bucket of Songs CD Hubro

Labfield return with their third album that differs greatly from their previous affair, ‘Collab’ which concentrated their efforts on soundscapes. This time they focus on the dangerous game that is improvisation, with the rattled percussion of opener ‘Ragged Line Reversed’ intercepted with analogue grinds and drones.

Gentle string instrumentation patters along on ‘Page 55’ with little effect on the senses, but ultimately makes more sense on ‘Temporary Reasons’ as harmonics draw everything together in a more cohesive fashion; leading up to the sparse title track.

‘Intercourse in Bad Manners’ takes a singular drone and applies the odd electronic whir. Unfortunately for Labfield, this is where things take a turn for the worse, where their experimental outbursts fumble and become nothing more than pointless tedium.

As before, the re-application of instrumentation from earlier tracks joins in the party; and for me everything becomes a tad messy, formless and lacking structure of anything tangible. Awash with clean instrumentation, the lack of any key structure leaves the latter half of ‘Bucket of Songs’ sounding jumbled and unlistenable.

6/10

HUNTSVILLE: Pond 2xLP/CD Hubro

huntsville

HUNTSVILLE: Pond 2xLP/CD Hubro

Huntsville formed nine years ago and the trio have had a number of releases out and played over a hundred shows; and with that background should by now have the skill required to produce an album of great integrity.

As analogue as the instrumentation is, there is an overall electronic feel to the release and ‘Pond’ opens up with ‘(ER)’; which for the most part, utilises a dub foundation that is sporadically accompanied with sliding guitars and pads.

The overtly experimental ‘(ING)’ is pleasant and warm enough not to meander into self-gratification, whilst the ambient led ‘(AGE)’ sparkles and generates a peculiar, yet engaging array of folding guitar work.

Closer ‘(OK)’ builds ever so slowly, with a subtle fusion of tympani, guitar feedback and harmonics floating over a low-key heartbeat; closing the curtain on four lengthy, yet effective tracks that require a modicum of patience to thoroughly appreciate what’s on offer.

‘Pond’ will not necessarily set the world alight and will ultimately have a niche market, but is rewarding enough to give it a chance should you have a spare hour.

7.8/10

FRODE HALTLI: Vagabonde Blu CD Hubro

frodehaltlivagabond

FRODE HALTLI: Vagabonde Blu   CD Hubro

‘Vagabonde Blu’ is Haltli’s fourth album represents his first true solo output and is recorded live in a studio created by the artist Emanuel Vigeland in Oslo1926; in his garden. The building eventually served as his mausoleum and has been used for recordings by Diamanda Galas and such like; and here, Haltli presents works by Composers Salvatore Sciarrino, Arne Nordheim and Aldo Clementi, relying on the studio’s (apparently acclaimed) dynamics; to a throng of chosen individuals.

The opening title track is a sea of reverberation and droning harmonies that are fairly unobtrusive; whilst track two, ‘Flashing’ is a nonsensical mess of stabbing sounds, that only come to life at towards the end of their laborious 14 minutes timespan. ‘Ein Kleines…’ represents the better work on this CD with a variety of instrumentation that holds its own as a rich display of uninterrupted musicianship that if embodied the whole album, would have produced a different reaction from myself, with regards to this being released.

As a sound installation, this once again holds the notion that most musical interpretations of this ilk are usually best served for the live audience alone. As a whole, without a visual accompaniment, this release becomes lost in its own interpretation.

6.5/10

HÅKON STENE: Lush Laments For Lazy Mammal CD Hubro

hakonstene

HÅKON STENE: Lush Laments For Lazy Mammal CD Hubro

Droning singular pad work opens up ‘Lush Laments…’ with ‘Prelude to HS’, leading into the off-key and deeply reverberated piano work of ‘Hi-Tremolo’; ascending into a crescendo of spangling ambience.

With various instrumentation along the way, such as Vibraphone, Marimba, E-bow, guitars and keyboards; Stene along with various colleagues, produce sparse interpretations of spatial awareness that cling onto silence, like dew threatens to drip form the branches of a tree.

Patience is the key factor when listening to this album; and a quiet room, sat alone with nothing but your thoughts for company, is essential. Due to the nature of drones and ambient work, the former is the hardest to accomplish, if to achieve anything of note; and luckily the compositional talents of Håkon Stene and his cohorts manage this task well.

As an album, whilst fairing well, this isn’t on the same par as say ‘The [Law-Rah] Collective and such like. It pays to create long-resonating soundscapes that evolve ever so slightly quicker; and for me this is the projects’ small failing, in that there is a tendency to meander too much, allowing for elements of disinterest to creep in.

However, as an introduction to the genre, Stene and friends provide nine momentary glimpses of self-awareness and contemplation that are well worth picking up should you come across them and the mood take you.

7.5/10

BUILDING INSTRUMENT: s/t LP/CD Hubro

buildinginstrument

BUILDING INSTRUMENT: s/t LP/CD Hubro

The trio of Building Instrument provide an ensemble of analogue and electronic musicianship; almost folk-like in its approach, with a touch of programming that gives an almost cut and paste quality to the output.

The vocals of Mari Kvien Brunvoll, provide an emotive exploration of pitch, resounding beauty and harmony that carry the production well throughout. Treated and sculpted into the drum-work and chiming ambience through subtlety, they’re the key weapon in Building Instrument’s arsenal.

Musically speaking though, this album isn’t always to my taste. Melody wise this threesome are strong, but I am not a lover of some of the sound sources, where it all becomes a touch too earth mother-ish and hippy like for me to find any affinity with.

There are moments along the way that I can latch onto, such as the almost trip-hop isms of the glorious ‘Kanskje’, where Brunvoll comes alive, reminiscent of the vocal styling of Halou. Singing in Norwegian, it barely matters that I can’t understand any utterance, as passion seeps from every corner of her being.

Building Instrument are a peculiar bunch that find a direct symmetry between the obscure and easy listening, that as a whole sit comfortably as bedfellows. My personal preference is that going forward they remain revelling in obscurity, ignoring any penchant for commercialism.

7.5/10