Ingar Zach – percussion
Xavier Charles – clarinet
Ivar Grydeland – electric guitars, real time sampling
Christian Wallumrød – amplified prepared piano, synthesizer
Well, it’s not your typical free improv – if there ever is such a thing as typical in this genre, but this album has a different feel to it than a lot of the restless scritchy scratchy rattle and scrape kind of stuff you generally associate with improv. This has a calmer feel, like the musicians want to take their time, enjoying the sounds they make just for the sheer beauty of it all. In that regard it’s closer to AMM, but with a different feeling – more sternklang than laminal. Poised and unhurried like the firmament on a hazy evening. It’s not laid back though, there’s a definite sense of purpose, everything seems like it’s just in the right place at the right time, but you just can’t figure out how or why.
Some of the names on here will be familiar to you. Xavier Charles on clarinet is someone I’ve heard of over the years, but I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember ever listening to. On this album he’s a master of soft timbres and extended techniques that don’t shout “look at me, I’m doing something different” so much as blending in seamlessly with all the other instruments – is it clarinet, or guitar feedback? Breath sounds or sandpaper on a snare drum?
Ingar Zach, a master of space and time, depositing sounds in just the right place like a zen master laying pebbles in a garden, perfectly complementing Christian Wallumrød’s prepared piano tones and subliminal synthetics while Ivar Grydeland doesn’t do anything any normal guitarist would dream of doing to the extent that you wonder if it’s a typo and there isn’t actually a guitar on here at all. I think I heard a distant twang in there somewhere as if to reassure us of his presence. Otherwise it’s difficult to tell what’s prepared guitar, prepared piano or strange percussion. The whole album sounds like one big instrument being gently coaxed into being.
Floating around all this, like microscopic lifeforms in a pond, the whole album has a subtle layer of electronics and live processing going on, tiny little looped noises, rumbling and buzzing, whirring, stirring and purring, sublingual and dream-like, adding an extra layer otherworldliness, as if the album’s been pressed from some strange composite material made of recycled moon dust and tree resin simmered in a cauldron in a lonely forest. Odd little grainy filtered tones like someone sucking the last dregs of sound in the bottom of the glass through a straw.
And then it’s over. 33:50 seems too short for a cd in this age of 78 minute albums, but it’s the perfect length – more would’ve been too much and they didn’t want to outstay their welcome. A nice friendly meeting of sound masters, relaxing and engrossing. A superior form of ambience because it’s so human and so natural, bewitching like starlight reflected off a lake.