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Punkt Festival 2014

Henning Bolte By

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"Edges," for any number of players and free instrumentation (1969), by Christian Wolff (1934)—performed by John Tilbury, Keith Rowe, Christian Fennesz, Eivind Lønning, Espen Reinertsen, Kari Rønnekleiv, Ole-Henrik Moe and Ingar Zach—was an ideal transitional piece between first day's music and the remix concerts of the second day. The signs on the score of "Edges" do not refer primarily to what the player plays or the listener hears. The signs mark out spaces, indicate points, surfaces, routes or limitations. Each player should play to, in or around what is marked out. This opens up a lot of interesting possibilities, choices and interactions that make every performance new. The listener is given a similar task of "composing" when perceiving the space and the voices, the sounds coming out of it. The visibility of the musicians aided this process, although partial non-visibility might have made it still more intriguing.

Remix Concerts

Drummer Gard Nilssen and pianist Morten Qvenild are two key musicians of the younger generation of the Norwegian scene. Both are—given the range and number of groups in which they participate—not only highly versatile but also investigative musicians. Nilssen has released a solo album (Drumming Music , Gigafon) recently; Qvenild is currently a research fellow in a new artistic (action-)research program at Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. Under the title "hyPer(sonal) piano," he investigates the possibilities/restrictions of extending the piano. As sPace moNkey, the duo has just released its debut album The Karman Line (Hubro, 2014), operating extemporaneously in contrast to the preceding Christian Wolff's preceding, configured "Edges," or the through- composed pieces Håkon Stene played with his ensemble the day before. These qualifications are clearly scalar entities. Qvenild/Nilssen might at certain moments in the performance make use of a few pre-structured elements. sPace moNkey's music unpredictably shuttled between high energy outburst and freak outs, and beautifully strange, quiet soundscaping.

Qvenild chose to start with a quite straight, gospel-like Ray Charles vibe that became increasingly dense and heated. After awhile, it mutated into firedamp lightnings and turmoil but kept its graspable complexity and burning energy. The music exploded, spreading and stretching out energetically. The duo held up the tension, firing and keeping it steady from underneath. And, for landing, it managed to return into the curve of the initial gospel feel. The only evil-doer was a too ample, sound-killing, dulling subwoofer. The duo's music was the sheer opposite of the music heard the day before.

sPace moNkey created a strong challenge for Jan Bang and guitarists Eivind Aarset, together with a different drummer, Punkt-novice Samuel Rohrer. Rohrer, a Swiss musician from Berlin, has earned quite a reputation through his participation in various configurations with German ECM and Swiss Intakt label collaborations with Norwegian musicians including Jan Bang and, more recently, diving deeper into electronics with his new trio with Max Loderbauer (on buchla 200e) and Claudio Puntin (clarinets), on their first album, ambiq, on the new Arjuna-label.

For the remix, the source material provides impulses and casts a shadow. The musicians have to find and project their way into the action. In the beginning, Bang faded a melody line in and out, with Nilssen's bass drum deeply buried. Along with Rohrer's dry short drum beats and Aarset's guitar sounding almost mandolin-like for a short stretch, it departed. Gradually getting more layered---through Aarset's and Rohrer's subtle electronics too—it morphed into differing shapes and temperatures. The drum beats began to splinter, Aarset's electric guitar went into heavy rock mode. A storm arose—swooshing sound waves, as if a raving church organ was ascending. And, even better: Major Tom returned to the ground perfectly timed, not a single nanosecond too long—a crucial virtue. The potentials and possibilities of Bang's little Akai box again appeared to be amazing, but still more amazing was the rapidity of Bang's decision-making and his execution in and out of the musical flow. The initial remix: a marvellous match.

Punkt's co-artistic director Erik Honoré's new album, Heliographs, was officially released this day on Andreas Meland's profiling Hubro label. For the release concert, Honoré was joined onstage by trumpeter Arve Henriksen, guitarist Eivind Aarset, Dutch violinist Jeffrey Bruinsma and percussionist Ingar Zach. Alas, eminent vocalist and (irreplaceable) core Punkt musician Sidsel Endresen, who is on the recording, could not make it.


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