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Arve Henriksen: The Timeless Nowhere

John Eyles By

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Released as a limited-edition four-LP set, including the music on two CDs—a total of forty-two tracks, running for over one-hundred-and-fifty-six minutes—Arve Henriksen's The Timeless Nowhere mainly comprises new recordings and unreleased material dating from 2007 to 2019. (Only the live recordings from the 2017 Punkt festival have previously been available, by streaming or download.) Not a compilation of past releases, it serves well as an overview of the trumpeter's work and explorations. Each of the four albums has its own title (Captured Under Mountainsides, Acousmograph, Cryosphere & Towards Language—Live at Punkt ), sleeve design by Rune Grammofon's Kim Hiorthøy, and distinct identity, meaning that they could easily have been issued separately.

The unreleased tracks all live up to the exceptional standards of Henriksen's past releases, none giving any indication of why they were not released before. Just as importantly, each album hangs together well, never sounding like flung-together out-takes. Aside from Acousmograph—on which Henriksen is heard alone on various instruments—the other three albums feature contributions by names familiar from the trumpeter's past albums, including samplers Jan Bang and Erik Honore plus guitarist Eivind Aarset who crop up across the three albums, notably with Henriksen in a quartet on the Punkt album.

Captured Under Mountainsides opens proceedings in fine style. Its music reflects the striking beauty of the scenery in western Norway where Henriksen grew up; the distinctive timbre of his trumpet—instantly recognisable after just one note—eloquently conveys a complex mix of happy-sad emotions including nostalgia, melancholy, wistfulness and loss. Many of the melodies have a quasi-religious feel, notably "Bedehus—House of Prayer" on which Henriksen's keening voice is painfully moving. Suffice to say, one piece of information instantly puts everything into perspective: the album is dedicated to the memory of Henriksen's brother Kjell-Ove Henriksen.

In complete contrast, Acousmograph, with Henriksen alone, is more experimental and exploratory, a pot-pourri resembling an artist's sketchbook. The eleven tracks include field recordings from various locations, pieces inspired by a selection of other musicians and composers (including Carl Nielsen and Krzysztof Penderecki), and one composition, "Dimly Lit Frescoes," made for a Supersilent installation at the Ultima 2017 festival. Overall, the album has a sparser feel, with Henriksen often playing keyboards—piano, celeste, harmonium, synthesiser—or using field recordings to create soundscapes, over which his trademark trumpet or voice is added. Despite the tracks' diversity of sources, they gel together remarkably well.

One of Acousmograph's tracks, "Pathless Forest," is described as "adjusted in Punkt studio by Jan Bang and Erik Honoré," a reminder of the role played by "adjustment" in the creation of Henriksen's music... Which leads neatly to Cryosphere, on which Bang (aided by two of his students from the University in Agder, Kristiansand) re-used, re-layered, re-mixed and re-invented recordings which Henriksen had made with percussionists Audun Kleive, Helge Norbakken and Ingar Zach, in the process including material dating from concert performances in 2012 and 2014 as well as drum samples. Given all of that, questions about who did what and when become difficult to answer, but also largely irrelevant; it is far better to judge the end-products rather than unpick the creative processes that led to them. On that basis, as with everything here, Cryosphere must be judged a success as—once again—Henriksen's trumpet and voice are perfectly framed and displayed to best advantage, pure and true.

If the other albums present issues of attribution, the conundrum presented by Towards Language—Live at Punkt is as large but different. The original album, Towards Language, was studio-recorded in 2016, with Bang and Honoré constructing environments for Henriksen to be heard in. At the 2017 Punkt festival, the Henriksen-Bang-Honoré-Aarset quartet played a live set based on that album—not a note-for-note copy of it—with Bang and Honoré using live-sampling. The album was later mixed by Honoré at Green Room in Oslo. The resulting album is different to the original release but makes a first-rate, complementary companion-piece to it. The two sound good one after another, the effect being similar to listening to a recording and then a creative DJ remix version of it.

Long-standing aficionados of Henriksen can buy this set with confidence, safe in the knowledge that it contains no shocks but fits neatly into his oeuvre, shedding new light on some of his past work. Henriksen newcomers, wanting to know what all the fuss is about, can easily begin here.

Track Listing: Captured Under Mountainsides: Amazed by its Beauty; From a Distance; Fog and Light; Traces, Marks and Imprints of Time; Abandoned Schoolhouse; Valley Echolocation; The Storyteller; The Painter, the Poet and the Past; Bedehus – House of Prayer; Tún – Old Remains of Settlement; Water Inscriptions; Tilia Cordata; Acousmograph: Shadow Lines; Prelude Unfolding; Pathless Forest; Cinématique Graphique; Port of Call; Monochrome Garden; The Timeless Nowhere; Chamber Calibration; Embracing Life of Solitude; Dimly Lit Frescoes; Point of Departure; Cryosphere: Origin; Perfectly Diffuse; Subsurface; Radiative; Eating Stars; Intoku; Levitation; Aerial; Myosis; Towards Language – Live at Punkt: Traces of Words; Aspirations; Patient Zero; Towards Language; Guarded; Groundswell; Turf War; Vivification; Biding Time; Paridae.

Personnel: Captured Under Mountainsides: Arve Henriksen: trumpets, vocal, piano, synthesizers, organ, electronics (1-12); Erik Honoré: keyboards (8); Skúli Sverrisson: bass (10); Hilmar Jensson; guitar (10); Jan Bang: live sampling (8, 12); Max and Filip Friman-Henriksen: additional percussion sounds (11); Acousmograph:- Arve Henriksen: trumpets, vocal, piano, celeste, harmonium, synthesizers, field recording, sounds, electronics (13-23); Cryosphere:- Arve Henriksen: trumpets, vocals, electronics and synthesizer (24-32); Jan Bang: sampler, live sampling, beats, treatments, programming (24-32); Helge Norbakken: percussion, cymbals, djembe, shakers (24-32); Ingar Zach: grand cassa, objects, cymbal, brushes, water percussion (24-32); Audun Kleive: drums (24), hand drum (30), percussion (28, 32); Walter Laureti; synthesizer (27, 29), treatments (29), string programming (32); Kristian Isachsen: programming, treatments (26, 27); Eivind Aarset: guitar (32); Towards Language – Live at Punkt: Arve Henriksen: trumpet, voice (33-42); Jan Bang: samples, live sampling (33-42); Erik Honoré: live sampling, synthesizer (33-42); Eivind Aarset: guitar (33-42).

Title: The Timeless Nowhere | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon

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