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Hakon Thelin: Light (2012)

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Hakon Thelin: Light How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The five compositions on Light define the musical language of Norwegian double bass master Hakon Thelin, known as a member of the new music trio Poing. Thelin calls his language "folk music for the double bass," following his mentor, the late Italian double bass master Stefano Scodanibbio, to whom this recording is dedicated.

Thelin balances between intricate composed melodic forms and shapes, impressionistic improvisations and exploration of certain sounds that speak particularly well through the double bass. The overtones that he creates, captured superbly engineer Cato Langnes—sometimes using up to twelve mikes on and around the double bass—enable a new world of sounds and emphasize their connection to the fundamentals of all sounds.

The first, short composition for solo double bass, "Amarcord" (after the semi-biographical film by Italian director Federico Fellini) blurs the distinction between improvisation and composition. "oibbinadocS," also for a solo double bass, is an inspired, methodical journey that explores the music and the extended techniques of Scodanibbio, including constant changing motion between low and high sounds, between ordinary tones and flageolets, and movement between dissonant and consonant sounds.

The idea for "Light," for violin— played by Marco Rogliano—and double bass, appeared when Thelin planned a series of concerts in lighthouses along the Norwegian coast. Here, Thelin and Rogliano successfully follow Scodanibbio's example, creating a homogeneous expression of sound—light in its spirit, and with a fleeting characteristic.

On "Shared Moments," for solo double bass with tape, Thelin follows composer Luciano Berio, composing strategy and experiments playing the bass together with a recording of Indian tabla drums and prerecorded bass sounds. Here he stresses the percussive techniques, exploring multiphonics and harmonics, until the live acoustic sounds of the double bass morph beautifully within the electro-acoustic tone and cover the whole range between Indian violin, the bowed sarangi and the western double bass.

The most ambitious composition, "Glasperlenspiel," for double bass and vocal tenor— sung by Frank Havrøy—is named after German author Herman Hesse' 1943 novel, The Glass Bead Game. It evolves as an elaborate game between text fragments and musical phrases, in which the explicit communication or precise interpretation of the texts is secondary to attempts at expressing the very subjective feelings that arise when reading Hesse's words.

An impressive exploration of the infinite possibilities of the double bass to, as Scodanibbio said, "sing with its own voice."

Track Listing: Amarcord; oibbinadocS; Light; Shared Moments; Glasperlenspiel.

Personnel: Håkon Thelin: double bass; Franco Rogliano; violin (3); Frank Havrøy; vocals (5).

Record Label: Atterklang


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