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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Eivind Aarset - Dream Logic (ECM, 2012) ****

There is an elusive moment when music transports you to another place. Possibly a combination of music, exhaustion level, blood sugar levels and some other factors I have yet to pinpoint, it's wonderfully hard to achieve and seemingly impossible to force. I recall such an occurrence once while standing in New York's Penn Station listening to 'Electromagnetic' on Eivind Aarset & the Sonic Codex Orchestra's Live Extracts album. For a few minutes watching the board for the train departures receded into the din and the intensity of the sound sculpture overwhelmed me.

Suffice to say Aarset's follow up album, Dream Logic is in no way shape or form the same as the live album. It is mostly a solo outing and the huge peaks that the Codex band reached is replaced by subtle nuance. And it really is quiet, so much so that at times I doubted my hearing. The guitar here is processed and transformed, at times into sounds quite unlike the guitar at all. Assisting with the transformations, electronic music maker Jan Bang provides samples and programming. Through these layers, and over slowly expanding time, the guitarist builds ethereal dreamscapes.

Starting off with the first of three variations of 'Close (for comfort)', the slowly building layers of guitars make for an eerie and meloncholic opening. Tension builds during the song's arc and hardly dissipate as the tune draws to a close. The follow-up 'Surrender' is a slowly flowing stream of quietly roiling sound. 'Jukai (Sea of Trees)' has a chiming quality, with repeating patterns playing over what sounds like the guitarist working in the bass register. This then mixes in with samples and sounds appearing in odd-timed loops. Fast forwarding a bit, 'Homage to Greene' from the last third of the album, is a fantasticaly slow unfolding of guitaristic sounds, shaped by the springy twang of reverb, slow string scrapes and a slightly country pitch bends, all building over the deep electronic pulsations. Opposite to the first few tunes described, it has a hopeful and open feel and is over too soon.

Dream Logic is a lovely album, spacious and quiet, and one that works well within the ECM aesthetic. While it doesn't seize me like I want it to, it is very stirring album that demands many listens. It's not bent on summoning the musical rapture, rather it's an evocative and personal statement. Introspective and often dark, the album is something to enter calmly at the end of the day, or perhaps as it begins, outside the chaos of everyday life.


luis said...

label: solo guitar ??

Paul said...

I was thinking of the label more as a navigational element than solely descriptive. I wanted readers to be able to pull up other guitar oriented recordings. Agree that this recording isn't truly a solo effort, as the electronics play an integral part.

Martin Schray said...

When I first listened to Dream Logic I found it a bit shallow. But you are right, Paul, the more often you listen to it the more interesting it becomes. Homage to Greene is obviously dedicated to Fleetwood Mac's early guitarist Peter Green imitating the guitarist's legandary sound (Albatros, Black Magic Woman).
And you can hear that both have worked with David Sylvian recently.
Nice album.