All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

372

Splashgirl: Arbor

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Title: Arbor | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Hubro Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Hibernation

Hibernation

Hubro Records
2016

buy
Field Day Rituals

Field Day Rituals

Hubro Records
2013

buy
Splashgirl: Pressure

Splashgirl: Pressure

Hubro Records
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Ellipse CD/LP/Track Review
Ellipse
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 23, 2018
Read While We Still Have Bodies CD/LP/Track Review
While We Still Have Bodies
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Ghost Town Blues Band CD/LP/Track Review
Ghost Town Blues Band
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Toot Suite CD/LP/Track Review
Toot Suite
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Love + Time + Divination CD/LP/Track Review
Love + Time + Divination
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2018
Read Gleb Kolyadin CD/LP/Track Review
Gleb Kolyadin
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "Alive In The House Of Saints Part 1" CD/LP/Track Review Alive In The House Of Saints Part 1
by John Sharpe
Published: December 24, 2017
Read "This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "D'Agala" CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Ugly Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "Bricks" CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
Read "Whispers on the Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017