Erik Honore and Greta Aagre: Year of the Bullet (2012)
Impressive in its reach and warmth, the music of keyboardist/sampler/lyricist Erik Honoré and vocalist Greta Aagre on Year of the Bullet feels like a perfect brushstroke of sound calligraphy, full of cinematic passages that are designed to evoke a broad emotional spectrum. This is the duo's third release and first signed under their namespreviously, they were known as Elsewhere.
Years of the Bullet is an Italian expression describing the hard '70s, when Italy was plagued by political tension and terrorism. Mostly written in Italy, the album combines a masterful and imaginative blending of samples taken from various geographical locations and sources, as well as live instruments. The outcome is an almost otherworldly, pillow-soft music with an unending flow of ideas.
As one of the driving forces behind the highly creative and original Punkt festival in Norway, an acclaimed producer and remixer and inveterate collaborator, Honoré lives up to his reputation as he creates layered and rich soundscapes that ripple like ancient tapestries given a fresh airing. Accompanied by these beautiful and imaginative instrumental backdrops, Aagre intones captivating, mesmeric spoken and sung passages.
The sonic rush that starts from the opener, "Birth Mark," and ends with the closing "Home," offers a delicate combination of flickering atmospheres, subtle orchestrations and intricate imagery. On one hand, these songs can be seen as beautifully sculpted aural creations and, on the other, as deftly imagined and wonderfully crafted pieces with unmistakable pop leanings. Across these 11 songs there isn't one weak or unnecessary moment to be found. The album balances moods nicely and it's this balance that makes the record both evocative and ethereal. Each song is designed to complement the poem at its center, until Aagre's voice actually becomes music. There is a beautiful playfulness on "Strangeness" which tiptoes elegantly, while tracks such as "Rope," "Before Betrayal" and "Night Train" sound like miniatures that conjure up cathedral-sized ambiences.
The album's cast of supporting musicians is comprised of close friends and acquaintances, like sound maverick Jan Bang,, trumpeter Arve Henriksen, and composer Dai Fujikura, who are all sympathetic to this duo's diverse leanings. British singer David Sylvianwith whom both Honoré and Bang have collaborated extensively, including the parallel-released Uncommon Deities (Samadhisound, 2012)acted as an external consultant during the final stages of the album's making. Both releases also share the brilliant artwork of renowned designer Chris Bigg (mostly known for his artwork for labels 4AD and Samadhisound). Sylvian's presence can also be felt on the title track, as the pulsating rhythm and tempo closely resemble "Wonderful World," the opener to Sylvian's Snow Borne Sorrow's (Samadhisound, 2006).
The end result is a richly varied album, its stark beauty emphasizing the breadth of the musicians' talents. It is intricate and engaging music that adds warmth and resonance to this duo's musical chiaroscuro.
Track Listing: Birth Mark;Strangeness; Rope; Before Betrayal; Via E; Year of the Bullet; Move to Strike; Night Train; Stay the Course.
Personnel: Erik Honore: samples, synthesizer, synth bass, percussion, piano, percussion programming; Greta Aagre: vocals, samples; Arve Henriksen: trumpet, trumpet samples; Jan Bang: samples, percussion programming; Dai Fujikura: string samples; Greg Williamsburg: backing vocal; Jorgen Rief: guitar, bass; Tom Rudi Torjussen: drums, conga; Tor Henning Leh, electric guitar samples.