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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Volumes - View (Va Fongool, 2019) ****

By Stef

I am not sure who invented this kind of minimalistic music. Possibly AMM, but then Ingar Zach and Ivar Grydeland gave their Norwegian spin on things, stretching the quiet and subdued music even more until all percussive effects slowly disappear into long horizontal tones. Whether percussion, guitar, piano, or reeds, tonal attack vanishes into the overall ephemeral sound of alternative approaches on the same instruments. Bands such as "Dans Les Arbres", "Mural", "Sheriffs Of Nothingness", "Silencers", "Muringa" and others, many to be found on the Sofa Label.

The quartet "Volumes" develops this approach, and it's no surprise that the musicians are Norwegian, with Isak Hedtjärn on clarinet, Fredrik Rasten on acoustic guitar, Torstein Lavik Larsen on trumpet with German Magda Mayas on grand piano.

As can be expected, the four instruments shed their normal sound, and with the occasional exception, are hard to identify. Both Mayas and Rasten use a variety of tools to make their strings sing and resonate in a very intense and gentle way. The metal clarinet and the trumpet completely merge at the tonal level, and make it hard to discern who does what, with - again - the occasional single note that will give them away. The end result is one of pristine beauty, like blue mist changing colour above a snowy landscape, as the art work might suggest, but then not quite because it's equally bustling with life, with sounds that change and interact constantly, or even hover above a repetitive subdued rhythms. It has a wonderful level of quiet energy that make his mysterious and attractive.

The aspects of psychoacoustics come into play when new auditory experiences are created either by masking unwanted and more traditional sounds from the instrument, or by enhancing the sounds of other instruments, playing with frequency, pitch and resonance. In a way, the new sounds catch the nervous system in a totally different way than traditional music. You can compare it to the ASMR hype on Youtube, where sounds create physiological effects on the listener, and because it does, it becomes addictive in a way. So is this music. But this is music. Not a collection of sounds.


Listen and download from Bandcamp.