All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Skyphone: Avellaneda

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Following up its 2004 Rune Grammofon debut, Fabula, Skyphone's Avellaneda may be the most beautiful near-pop record of 2008. This Danish trio makes music so song-like that it could, with added lyrics and a different approach to production, easily exist in the kind of dreamy experimental post-rock terrain of Iceland's Sigur Rós. In its seamless integration of technology and acoustic instrumentation it shares much with Norways's Svalastog and the profound Woodwork (Rune Grammofon, 2006), but there's a more definitive compositional focus. Skyphone also shares much in common with the more soothing aspects of Crime Scenes (Punkt Recordings, 2006), released to complement the kind of forward-thinking music heard at Norway's one-of-a-kind Punkt Festival, now entering its fourth year.

As is often the case with Rune Grammofon releases, there's little information provided other than, in this case, that the material is written, performed and produced by Thomas Holst, Keld Dam Schmidt and Mads Bȸdker. Still, sometimes retaining a little mystery means that the only thing that can be assessed is the music itself. With simple melodies, gentle and sometimes ambient landscapes, and compositions that can only be called songs despite rarely conforming to conventional song form, Avellaneda's eleven tracks are at once hypnotic and arresting.

A little research reveals that Holst is primarily a bassist, though his library of field recordings adds to Skyphone's naturalist ambience. Dem Schmidt contributes modular synths and, most notably, the largely acoustic guitars that sometimes place Skyphone in Bill Frisell territory, despite the group's folkloric references being thousands of miles distant from the guitarist's Americana roots. Bȸdker's analogue synths, samples, toy instruments and other found sound create electronic soundscapes that blend organically with the trio's acoustic textures—aural choices that are never overbearing, never making less than perfect sense.

"Cloudpanic" begins with a simple electric guitar loop, processed accordion-like pulse and fragile electronic percussion that, more often than not, sounds like ticks, pops or scratches. Themes evolve gradually as more layers are added—and occasionally dropped out for brief moments to create dynamic flow—although the song never approaches any kind of sonic density. The slowly emerging changes of "All is Wood" are supported by an in-the-weeds marimba-like sample that suggests the group has listened to both composer Steve Reich and intrepid pop star Peter Gabriel, although these are amongst the group's many references, neither significant enough to be considered defining stylistic markers. Horns, distorted guitars and a processed dulcimer-like sound are all part of a huge palette that, alongside Skyphone's melodic and ambient-centric approach, gives each song its own quiet personality.

While musicians around the globe are finding their own ways to integrate technology with acoustic instrumentation, Scandinavia appears to be ground zero. Every new group plays a part in gradually expanding a singular concept into a broader spectrum, with Avellaneda's beautiful combination of singable melodies, folkloric acoustics and otherworldly electronics a real treat for tired ears.

Track Listing: Cloudpanic; All is Wood; River of Kings; Dream Tree Lemurs; World Station; Schweizerhalle; Quetzal Cubicle; One Step Closer to the Ground; Tweed/Puck's Dye; Leafchisel; Yetispor.

Personnel: Keld Dam Schmidt: modular synths, guitar, additional sounds/effects. Thomas Holst: bass, field recordings, additional sounds/effects; Mads Bȸdker: analogue synths, samplers, toy instruments, additional sounds/effects.

Title: Avellaneda | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles


Hotell Hildur in Everöd



Rune Grammofon



Rune Grammofon


Related Articles

Read Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow CD/LP/Track Review
Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Transatlantic CD/LP/Track Review
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Criss Cross CD/LP/Track Review
Criss Cross
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 22, 2018
Read So Far CD/LP/Track Review
So Far
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Wherever You're Starting From CD/LP/Track Review
Wherever You're Starting From
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery CD/LP/Track Review
Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 21, 2018
Read "Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest" CD/LP/Track Review Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 25, 2018
Read "Scarlett Roses" CD/LP/Track Review Scarlett Roses
by Doug Collette
Published: November 26, 2017
Read "Here Comes the Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Here Comes the Sun
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 6, 2018
Read "Live at U of T" CD/LP/Track Review Live at U of T
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "VEIN plays Ravel" CD/LP/Track Review VEIN plays Ravel
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 13, 2017
Read "Rags And Roots" CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017