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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Selvhenter - Motion of Large Bodies (eget værelse, 2014) ****

By Eyal Hareuveni

Only few can be indifferent to the Selvhenter phenomena. A Danish all-female group that lures you into its highly intoxicating music with gentle, almost transparent yet hypnotic Gamelan rhythms. Once you think that this is another typical Nordic group that explores a polite, melancholic repertoire, Selvhenter explodes with super-fast riffs and heavy, danceable pulse that force you to move and this is only the beginning.  

Selvhenter never subscribed to any musical camp, deliberately avoiding any musical high roads. Its aesthetic is explorative and experimental in its spirit but at the same time surprising in its many detours. It can be noisy and wild as the sonic output of Japanese noise artist Merzbow, intense and energetic as of art-rockers Sonic Youth, delivered with intoxicating power riffs that sound as referencing the Led Zeppelin catalogue yet with danceable grooves that are inspired by West-African or Gamelan polyrhythms and dance club floors. All is wrapped in a sheer, poetic beauty.

Selvhenter intense live performances already graced the best left-off-center festivals and stages in Scandinavia, the rest of Europe and Japan, and won praises from forward thinking sonic explorers as Mats Gustafsson and Otomo yoshihide. The group is comprised of alto sax player Sonja LaBiance, trombonist Maria Bertel - both using multiple effects to process its instruments sound and adding for the first time keyboards and synthesizer, violinist Maria Diekmann and drummers Jaleh Negari and Anja Jacobsen, all are active in the Vibrant alternative scene of Copenhagen and as a group since 2008. The sophomore full-length album of the quintet, Motion of Large bodies, produced by Aske Zidore, one of the most in-demand producers of the Danish alternative music, released on its art collective-label eget værelse (a room of one’s own in Danish, after Virginia Woolf essay).

The sonic palette of Selvhenter is richer now, often shines with a polished sound, almost a poppish one, already stressed in the atmospheric-danceable groove of the opening “Golden Boy” and later on the melodic beat of “Dogs” and the minimalist, abstract rhythms of “Spirituel Vækstpakke”. But on a pieces like “Tribute” and “Strib Langsam” Selvhenter makes it clear that its basis still lies in uncompromising and raw force, pushing for dramatic, massive rhythmic attacks that now sound as owe much to the legacy of Gustafsson and his action jazz trio The Thing. Selvhenter keeps expanding its sonic envelope, now with the psychedelic drones of “Late Night Ferry” and “Wolfgang”,  spinning elements of Sun Ra space-age keyboards trips with a repetitive trance-like pulse and on “Les Femmes d'Affaires” even injects a playful funky touch.

It is recommended to experience Selvhenter music on the move. It may be much easier to move, simply surrender to its arresting, often volatile, stew of imaginative ideas and rhythms.

Available from Instantjazz.