Posts Tagged ‘Hubro’

Hubro – HUBROCD2576 – 28th October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

So sad, so haunting. The sliding notes, gently picked, cascade and ripple through the still air, reverb coating them in a vaporous mist. Somewhere between classical and country, the title track opens the album in a quietly moving style: pedal steel, banjo and musical saw all combine to create an air of melancholy, evocative of dappled light, and touched at the edges with a vague nostalgia. A slow, sedate swell gradually builds, a looping motif channelling a lilting, mesmeric melody. Lonesome country vibes drift across the desertscape of ‘Gråtarslaget, but it’s tinged with a hint of eastern mysticism. It’s an intriguing juxtaposition. Rolling piano and slow marching drums drift through the slowcore country meandering of ‘Florianer’, which in turn trickles down into the woozy warp of ‘Røk’.

The sparse arrangements and slowly unfurling motifs make for music – or, in places, something so background as to be an approximation of muzak – which is paired down, stripped back, presenting pieces which are less compositions and more emblematic of the essence of slowcore country. It’s not often that I would suggest songs would benefit from vocals, but these instrumental works do carry a weighted note of absence.

 

 

Geir Sundstol

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Hubro – HUBROCD2582 – 25th November 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Gathering pieces composed over the span of some thirteen years, Sound of Horse provides an insight into the compositional methodology of Laurence Crane, with each of the pieces performed by the shifting lineups of the Norwegian Asamimasa ensemble.

It begins with ‘John White in Berlin’ (2003), a long, low, ominous rumbling drone-based composition for electric guitar, cello, percussion and piano. The piano is sparse and way off in the distance. The strains of guitar feedback scrape at the senses in contrast to the low, almost subsonic rippling bass hum: it builds tension, but eventually this plateaus. There’s a daring fragility to the composition, but there’s little by way of movement or progression and little to really get a grip on. ‘Riis’ (1996), for clarinet, cello and electric organ manifests first as a cloud of ambience, from which elongated organ notes pipe a slow, majestic sound, a sort of semi-ambient church muzak. It’s an imposing work, as much by virtue of the instrumentation as the composition, although Crane does cast an immersive atmosphere.

The three ‘Events’ pieces for voice, three clarinets and a vibraphone move further into the realms of the spiritual, the wordless vocals are hushed, reverent, brushed with a celestial hue radiating upwards as they entwine with the sparse, soft-edged instrumentation. It’s the sound of a dark corner, illuminated by flickering candlelight. These pieces may be short, but they’re quietly powerful, moving.

The title track consists of seven parts spanning a full twenty minutes. It sounds nothing like any horse. With clarinet, bass clarinet, acoustic and electric guitar, as well as percussion and cello, the pieces offer a greater range of texture and tone than the other pieces, and at times offer more conventional melodic passages. Chords are strummed in slow repetition while the wind instruments make minor chord progressions underscoring an atmosphere of brooding melancholy and, in places, trepidatious uncertainty. Choppy electric guitars and thumping drums on the fourth section mark the biggest divergence from the overall form of not just the suite, but the album as a whole, and hint almost toward an assimilation of the elements of rock music, albeit in its most deconstructed and experimental form.

Precisely how to summarise what this album ‘does’ is immensely challenging, and equally, it’s not particularly clear what its purpose is to convey. It isn’t that the compositions lack finesse, but they do, all too often, lack focus. While Sound of Horse is a collection, there seems to be little connection, stylistically, between the pieces, giving it something of a scrapbook feel. But what to make of it? I dunno. Maybe it needs time. Maybe it need different ears. Maybe I need a different headspace. But at the time of writing, I’ve got little more than a shrug.

Laurnce Crane - Sound of Horse

Hubro – HUBROCD2578 – 7th October 2016

Those who have heard Kim Myhr’s 2014 album All Your Limbs Singing (or his collaboration with Jenny Hval and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra) will find Bloom a rather different proposition. In place of 12-string explorations which sit between American folk and 60s avant-garde, electric guitar and electronics fuse to create something quite intriguing. There are lengthy passages which sound like formless noodling, a single chord strummed and subject to tonal variations, running through permutations of effects on a pedal board to achieve different equalisation, gain, overdrive. But while the five tracks on Bloom are clearly of an experimental and seemingly improvisational bent, there are definite structures and a sense of composition, with washes of electronic sound and layers building over one another.

‘O Horizon’ turns the focus toward rhythm, while also building ambience through long, hovering guitar sustain. The one thing Myhr does not do frequently is play the guitar conventionally: he does, however, demonstrate just how massively versatile the guitar is as an instrument. Where he does strum, as he does with a clean tone on ‘Swales Fell’, uses a zither to achieves a sound somewhere between a harp and a sitar, the notes tumbling and fluttering in gentle cascades. The scratchy tonalities and rich textures which emerge through the shimmering summery shades of ‘Milk Run Sky’ create a balance and contrast. It’s on this final track that Myhr plays most conventionally, but still filtered through a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic prism.

Bloom is a rare beast, in that it’s an album which is very much about technique, and about the effects and sounds that exploratory techniques can create. But at no point does Myhr become excessively self-focused or lose the listener.

 

kim-myhr-bloom