372

Splashgirl: Arbor

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Splashgirl: Arbor Doors. Keys. (AIM)—coupled with a 2008 performance at Kristiansand, Norway's annual Punkt Festival—introduced Splashgirl as one of 2008's most intriguing new groups. Arbor affirms Splashgirl as one of improvising music's quietest ensembles.



The same core trio is back. Pianist Andreas Stensland Løwe, bassist Jo Berger Myhre, and drummer Andreas Lønmo Knudsrød all play in a number of groups showcased each year at the opening Punkt Elope mini-fest, which Løwe produces to bring attention to a vibrant young scene of Norwegian artists covering a wide swath of territory and stylistic cross-pollination. Doors. Keys. focused on piano, bass, and drums, with the addition of saxophone, bass clarinet, and violin enhancing the its chamber ambiance; Arbor expands Splashgirl's sonic palette with guitars, zithers, kantele, glockenspiel, percussion, synthesizers, and electronics.



Arbor continues Doors. Keys.' imaginative blending of influences, ranging from Erik Satie to Norwegian pianist/composer Christian Wallumrød, whose austere ECM releases, including 2007's sublime The Zoo is Far, provide a significant touchstone upon which the equally economical Splashgirl expands. Adding pedal steel guitarist Andreas Hofstad Sørås—also a guest at Splashgirl's Punkt performance—and acoustic guitarist Lasse Passage only serves to further distance a group with little reference to jazz orthodoxy, creating music of the moment that now equally blends Brian Eno-like ambience with a soft folk tradition.



Unlike Doors. Keys., the majority of the music is collaborative, most importantly Arbor's two lengthiest tracks: "Nature, as in bits, parts and pieces"; and the closing title track. Both traverse considerable cinematic audioscapes despite an overriding serenity. Beginning with a simple, chime-like melody, Knudsrø's mallet-driven drums and a single percussive tremolo, it's only when Løwe introduces spacious, melancholic yet strangely majestic piano voicings that "Nature" evolves into a deceptively static-sounding mesh of sustained, harp-like zither and kantele, layered piano and synth, and gently probing bass notes: minimalism without the pulse. More expansive electronic textures imbue "Arbor," but what's most definitive about it—and the entire album—is Splashgirl's deep attention to dynamics and detail. The slightest emergent harmonic or (e)bowed acoustic guitar string triggers music heavily reliant on the power of decay and carefully articulated nuance. Development is so gradual as to be nearly imperceptible, yet where "Arbor" begins and ends are ultimately two very different places.



Three composed pieces augment the collective improvisations: Passage's string-driven "He took us out to see the sun" a folkloric centerpiece that effectively divides Arbor in half; and two gentle pieces from Løwe. The pianist's ethereal "Hemlock" references both Eno's Music for Airports (Virgin/Astralwerks, 1980) and the tintinnabulism of Estonian classical composer Arvo Pärt's "Für Alina," while the quietly anthemic "Postludum," featuring Sørås' mournful pedal steel, builds inevitably; Arbor at its most powerful yet, in the end, a piece of uncanny tranquility.



The Norwegian scene continues to be intrepidly forward-thinking, with Splashgirl proving the vast potential of seemingly small ideas. Demonstrating significant growth, Arbor is a simply remarkable album where the slightest gradation speaks with great profundity.


Track Listing: We took him out to see the sun; Hemlock; Nature as in bits, parts and pieces; Black soil, red sea; He took us out to see the sun; I'm obsessed with this red light; Postludum; Nature as in pieces; Arbor.

Personnel: Andreas Stensland Løwe: piano, (e)bowed acoustic guitar; electric guitar; monochord, synths, electronics, zither; Jo Berger Myhre: double-bass, kantele, zither, snare drum, piano; Andreas Lønmo Knudsrød: drums, percussion, glockenspiel, vibraphone, zither; Andreas Hofstad Sørås: pedal steel guitar; Lasse Passage: conventional acoustic guitar, voice, tape.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Hubro Records | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011" CD/LP/Track Review 3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "City Colors" CD/LP/Track Review City Colors
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 28, 2016
Read "Abeng" CD/LP/Track Review Abeng
by Dave Wayne
Published: April 19, 2016
Read "Sharpener" CD/LP/Track Review Sharpener
by Nick Davies
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "The Meeting" CD/LP/Track Review The Meeting
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 17, 2016
Read "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" CD/LP/Track Review Rejoice! I'm Dead!
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 11, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!