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Huntsville: For the Middle Class

Kurt Gottschalk By

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The chugging rhythm of the train is a staple of country music, the rolling four-count evoking the promises of opportunity and escape across vast open lands. Traditionally that rhythm is portrayed by an acoustic guitar or brushes on a snare drum, not tablas and much less mechanized ones. But Norwegian trio Huntsville isnâ????t a traditional country band, or a traditional anything else for that matter. It does, however, cite country music, along with John Cage, Morton Feldman and drone music, among its influences, and Ivar Grydelandâ????s banjo and steel guitar make the Americana hard to miss. Tonny Kluftenâ????s slow, steady upright bass is most often the foundation for the four long pieces on For the Middle Class, Huntsvilleâ????s debut album, while Ingar Zachâ????s fast percussion—often comprised of modified and motorized Indian instruments—propels them.

Thrown together, these elements donâ????t really add up to country music. But itâ????s as close to that as anything—something like Bill Frisellâ????s recent work, but pumped up and layered thick. The thick fog isnâ????t a surprise—all three have worked with the improv group No Spaghetti Edition, and Grydeland and Zach are founders of the Sofa label—but when it clears, the countryside is unexpected.

Track Listing: The Appearance of a Wise Child; Serious Like a Pope; Add a Key of Humanity; Melon.

Personnel: Iver Grydeland: acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, pedal steel guitar, radio, electronics, organ and voice; Tony Kluften: bass, rhythm machine and glockenspiel; Ingar Zach: percussion, tabla machine, sarangi box and shruti box.

Title: For the Middle Class | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon

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