Lasse Marhaug: Electronic Explorations
Norwegian electronics and noise artist Lasse Marhaug is an innovative and busy musician on the fertile Norwegian scene. He has contributed to over 200 releases, led outfits such as Jazkamer and Nash Kontrol, collaborated with extreme metal bands, and written music for theater, dance, installations and video. His jazz collaborations include Ken Vandermark's Territory Band and the Oslo version of Vandermark's Powerhouse Sound. His uncompromising and imaginative sonic vision shines in these two very different releases.
Lasse Marhaug/Paal Nilssen-Love
Marhaug and drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen Love have worked together in Vandermark's groups, as well as being co-producers of the annual All Ears improvised music festival in Oslo. Their first recorded duet, Personal Hygiene (Utech, 2005), captured their live duet at the Nu-Music festival in Stavanger and featured their shared affinity for thunderous and far out sonic territories. This latest release, the first on Nilssen-Love's new label, was recorded, mixed and mastered by Hild Sofie Tafjord from the all-women, electro-improv outfits Spunk and Fe-mail, who also added her own contributions to Marhaug/Nilssen-Love's original sound sources.
Tafjord uses Nilssen-Love's drum kit (especially his unique take on cymbals) together with Marhaug's lap-top as sound feeds for a grander vision, rather than the finished story. She creates six, free-form, drone-based textures that shift and mutate almost organically, while she carefully cuts and pastes, overdubs and samples the original sounds. The first track, "Paranoia Agent," is as the title suggests a stormy, clashing meeting of assorted noises. But "Satanico Pandemonium" is surprisingly meditative in its gentle use of otherworldly sounds.
Nilssen-Love's vigorous drumming is prominent in "Tenebrae," along with Marhaug's industrial-drill noise and feedback. Tafjord combines these sounds into a thick, threatening, electronic stew. "The Lodger" offers a more spare sonic atmosphere, with abrupt variations of electronic and white noise. The closing track, the slow "I Will Walk Like A Crazy Horse," offers another fresh range of sonic possibilities, mutating metallic sounds into a relaxing cyclical mix. A really fascinating album.
Nils Henrik Asheim is a prominent organ player in Norway, who has focused in recent years on texture and the physical and tactile qualities of sound. He recorded an interesting set of organ improvisations, 16 Pieces For Organ (Sofa Music, 2002), on his favorite organ in Oslo cathedral, and an inspiring live duet with Nilssen-Love, Pipes & Bones (Utech, 2005).
Marhaug began collaborating with Asheim during the 2004 All Ears festival. The duo met again two years later for an hour-long live recording in the cathedral's organ loft. Asheim sat at the organ console with Marhaug right behind him, playing his lap-top through a loudspeaker system in order to blend the sounds of the acoustic organ with the electronics. The recording was made at night in order to avoid picking up unwanted city sounds. The five pieces offer a memorable meeting of adventurous minds. Asheim works with half-stops and subtle techniques to build immaculate and translucent multi-layered textures. Marhaug delicately weaves his digital and analog sine wave oscillators with the low and high pitches of Asheim's vibrating single chords in a way that blurs the origins of the sounds.
The improvised compositions move between near-meditative choral pieces, like the opening "Bordunal" and the closing "Clavaeolina," where Asheim sets the tone, to more energetic and conversational pieces, like "Magnaton" and "Philomela." On the former, Marhaug uses aggressive sounds such as the repetitive noisy feedbacks; on the latter he subtly expands Asheim's rich sonic palette with mechanical drone effects that blend readily with the varying sounds of the organ. A phenomenal recording.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Paranoia Agent; Satanico Pendomonium; The Last Exile; Tenbrae; The Lodger; I Will Walk Like A Crazy Horse.
Personnel: Lasse Marhaug: electronics; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums; Hild Sofie Tafjord: additional sounds.
Tracks: Bordunal; Phoneuma; Magnaton; Philomela; Clavaeolina.
Personnel: Lasse Marhaug: electronics; Nils Henrik Asheim: organ.