Although they had been collaborating since the early 90s, the first recording on which the Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset
and American-born, Norway-resident Jan Bang
appeared together was Bang's Pop Killer
(Virgin, 1998). In the years since, Aarset and Bang have collaborated on many more albums, but this is the first to credit them as a duo. Particular high spots in their collaborations have included Bang's album on David Sylvian
's label ...and Poppies from Kandahar
(Samishadsound, 2010), Aarset's Dream Logic
(ECM, 2012), produced by Bang, which included plenty of Aarset-Bang (or Aarset-Honoré-Bang) compositions, Arve Henriksen
's The Height of the Reeds
(Rune Grammofon, 2018), and the song-based Dark Star Safari
(Arjunamusic, 2019)a mouth-watering playlist.
While Aarset's guitar, and Bang's production, mixing and sampling have been crucial ingredients in the sound of much modern Norwegian music, it would not be proper to neglect many other musicians who have also contributed, particularly as quite a few make appearances on this album, including trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer
, vocalist Sidsel Endresen
and sampler and synth player Erik Honore
Right from the start of the opening track, "Purplebright," listeners are in an electronic soundscape constructed from synths, samples and guitar notes which are interwoven, ebbing and flowing together. "Asphalt Lake" has more of an industrial characteristic, being underpinned by a relentless low-frequency pulse with occasional melodic fragments over the top. The all-too-brief "Before the Wedding" features Hilde Norbakken on melodic piano over an electronic backdrop. Such tracks typify the modus operandi
throughout, with seemingly incompatible ingredients from a variety of sources being juxtaposed and fitted together in ways which work and are effective, often with an underlying rhythmic pulse easing things along. While there are ingredients which are identifiable as originating from dub, contemporary composition, folk or pop music these are integrated together into a seamless whole rather than being showcased.
Running for about forty-three minutes, the album's forward momentum will be sufficient to carry most listeners along and leave them contentedly glowing at the end. Devotees of the contemporary Norwegian music scene will find plenty here to reinforce their devotion and keep them coming back for more. Those who are curious, but have yet to see the light, are recommended to invest time in seriously listening to Snow Catches on her Eyelashes
; converts are referred to the earlier mentioned list. Aarset, Bang and company go from strength to strength, as does the Norwegian scene. Onward and upward.
Purplebright; Asphalt Lake; Before the Wedding; Two Days in June; Outer Space; The Witness; Inner Sphere; Serenade; Monochrome; Night Spell.