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Equilibrium: Liquid Light

Dan Bilawsky By

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The concept of equilibrium is all about the balancing of opposing forces, actions, or influences; the music of Equilibrium is largely about the same, though some twists, focal point shifts, and ambient sound plays complicate and muddy the concept a bit.

Equilibrium—a trio comprised of Belgian clarinetist Joachim Badenhorst, Danish guitarist Mikkel Ploug, and Norwegian vocalist Sissel Vera Pettersen—quietly yet boldly goes to places unknown, finding and creating the maximum in minimalist settings while blending voices and blurring shapes and lines. Liquid Light—the band's third outing, following Equilibrium (Songlines, 2009) and Walking Voices (Songlines, 2011)—is a collection of miniature works that alternately flow, effervesce, ooze, burble, or simply remain static.

The majority of the fifteen pieces presented herein are between one and four minutes in length. No set formula guides this band, no single figure dominates, and the music ranges widely, covering everything across the barren-to-beautiful spectrum. At times, all three musicians wear the guise of sound effect artists, obscuring the pure sound of their instruments to deliver somewhat tribal and primitive soundscapes ("Totemic I") or create eerie and isolated atmospheres ("Eupnea"). Those scenarios are often tough to take in, as there's little for the ear to really grab hold of, but it's a different story when guitar, voice, and clarinet (or bass clarinet) emerge in their most natural form(s). The truly memorable pieces on Liquid Light—"Praha, "Eupnea," "Oslo From Above," "Grundtvig Coral," and "Laglio"—all tap into the hypnotic beauty that exists when Petterson's heavenly wordless vocals, Ploug's guitar patterns, and Badenhorst's pure-toned instrument(s) work together in harmony. That's where Equilibrium finds its truest point(s) of balance.

Track Listing: Praha; Eupnea; Thalassa; Totemic I; Totemic II; Respire; Oslo From Above; Air; Grundtvig Coral; Motels Mono; Hiro; Sweep; Laglio; Statolith; Comacino Dreaming.

Personnel: Sissel Vera Pettersen: vocals, live electronics, soprano saxophone, singing bowls (11); Joachim Badenhorst: clarinet, bass clarinet; Mikkel Ploug: electric guitar, acoustic guitar.

Title: Liquid Light | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

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