1982 + BJ Cole: 1982 + BJ Cole (2012)
For its third album, following 1982 (NORCD, 2009) and Pintura (Hubro, 2011), the trio now known as 1982 decided, after much discussion, to invite a guest musician to join the recording. A few years earlier, the group had met pedal steel guitarist 1982 at a BBC radio program, and so decided to enlist him, even though the four had not played together previously. As drummer Øyvind Skarbø comments, "We thought this was a good and, not least, unusual choice." In fact, Cole's pedal steel is an ideal complement to fiddler/violinist Nils Okland and harmonium player Sigbjorn Apeland, so it proved an inspired choice.
Cole has an impressive and varied CV which includes working with Bjørk, Brian Eno, Sting, David Sylvian and Scott Walker, among many others, so he was ideally qualified to help 1982 "develop as a band and explore new terrain," the group's reasons for inviting a guest. Of the quartet's working methods in the studio, Skarbø says, "Mainly, we improvised freely for a few hours. At intervals we tried more concrete things, for instance a special fiddle tuning, or we recorded an entire track based on one random idea somebody had during one of the freer sessions."
Although the combination of fiddle, harmonium and pedal steel may suggest folk music more than improvisation, the end result is a happy amalgam of the two; the resulting music has a gently evolving sense of melody that radiates tranquillity. All four players contribute to its subtle beauty, with Cole not rocking the boat but fitting into the ensemble as if he has always been there. His pedal steel's mellifluous sound joins in seamlessly alongside the fiddle and harmonium, with the lead role rotating between the three; meanwhile, Skarbø contributes just enough percussion to give the music a pulse but not an intrusive beat.
At under 34 minutes, the album is one of those that cries out to be played again as soon as it is over. It also leads to hopes that the collaboration between 1982 and Cole will be more than a one-off. More, please!
Track Listing: 09:03; 04:22; 03:43; 01:06; 05:21; 02:57; 04:00; 02:59.
Personnel: Nils Økland: Hardanger fiddle, violin; BJ Cole: pedal steel; Sigbjørn Apeland: harmonium; Øyvind Skarbø: drums.