Eivind Aarset: Dream Logic (2012)
With the exception of trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær and singer Sidsel Endresenwho each left the label after contributing two fine albums as leadersthere seems to be an increasing number of Norwegian artists who, after establishing themselves on smaller labels, are gaining greater international exposure by moving to the venerable ECM label. Trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Cartography (2008) is one; Food, featuring percussionist Thomas Strønen, is another, with Quiet Inlet (2010); and The Source's eponymous 2006 release, yet another.
Now add Eivind Aarset; a guitarist who, following a string of superlative recordings on keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft's Jazzland label and participating on recent ECM recordings by artists including bassist Arild Andersen, saxophonist Andy Sheppard and trumpeter Jon Hassell, now has Dream Logic, his debut as a leader for the label. Aarset alluded to a solo guitar recording in his 2010 All About Jazz interview, and the eleven introspective pieces that comprise the dark, ruminative Dream Logicdespite being unlike anything he's done beforeremain unmistakably his, in a recording that couldn't have been made by anyone but Aarset.
Not unlike guitarist Nels Cline's equally superb Coward (Cryptogramophone, 2009), Dream Logic reveals a different side to Aarset. Past recordings possess passages similar to the sometimes ambient, sometimes brooding but always beautiful music of Dream Logic, but invariably find themselves in the more aggressive, pulse-driven terrain intrinsic to his twin-drummer Sonic Codex group of the past few years. Here, however, with Aarset alone layering guitars, bass and percussion, seamlessly integrated with processing and programmingand astute contributions from producer Jan Bang of the annual Punkt Live Remix festival and recent Uncommon Deities (SamadhiSound, 2012) (both collaborations with Erik Honoré, who also mixed Dream Logic with Bang)the music reveals the full breadth of Aarset's imaginative sonics and unorthodox approaches. On the distinctly Zen "Jukai (Sea of Trees)," Aarset evokes images of the orient, his EBowed guitar emulating a bowed kokyū or, perhaps, a double-reeded hichiriki, over layers of tuned percussion and sonic washes.
Whether it's the soft, comforting, tremolo'd guitar of "Hommage to Green" or the stratospheric soundscapes of the closing "The Beauty of Decay"its occasional loose percussives, hints of an electric bass pulse and abstruse melodies sounding quite unlike anything heard before on guitarAarset has delivered a record so soft as to occasionally come ever so close to silence, without ever actually reaching it. Deep, dark and trance-inducing, Dream Logic is a quiet masterpiece from a guitarist whose uncanny ability to find new aural plains is like the eye following an ever-visible yet never reachable horizon.
Track Listing: Close (For Comfort); Surrender; Jukai (Sea of Trees); Black Silence; Active; Close (Variation I); Reactive; Homage to Greene; The Whispering Forest; Close (Variation II); The Beauty of Decay.
Personnel: Eivind Aarset: guitars, bass guitar, electronics, percussion, samples, programming; Jan Bang: samples, dictaphone, programming; Audun Kleive: log drum sample (9).