Friday, December 8, 2023

Mark Solborg - BABEL (Ilk Music, 2023)

By Eyal Hareuveni

Danish (with Argentinian roots) guitarist-composer Mark Solborg’s BABEL takes the biblical myth of the Tower of Babel when God created a communicative discord to control man and asks if God actually intended to nurture a fertile diversity. “A disruption of a self-perpetuating echo chamber, to stimulate a more varied and complex perspective of the world? Maybe she (God) wanted to show us that we will find the strength to solve the planet’s problems in our differences and multiple talents, not in uniformity and polarization”.

BABEL, in a way, is an extension of Solborg’s previous work, TUNGEMÃ…L (meaning idiom or tongue) (Ilk Music, 2021), a platform concerned with the guitar as a voice in contemporary chamber musical contexts. In BABEL Solborg wanted to collapse the self-perpetuating tunnel vision of these echo chambers and to investigate, illustrate and raise awareness of the continuous cross-cultural interhuman debate, and, obviously, to show how words, our idioms and mother tongues are deeply connected with our view of ourselves and the way we resonate with the surrounding world. And furthermore, to suggest a better, compassionate conversation that may become increasingly important if we are to solve the challenges of our society and species.

Solborg composed music for a chamber ensemble of trusted, long-time collaborators - Portuguese, Stockholm-based trumpeter Susana Santos Silva, Italian, Copenhagen-based clarinetist Francesco Bigoni, and Danish reeds player Anders Banke, pianist and keyboards player Simon Toldam and drummer-percussionist Peter Bruun, and Solborg himself on guitar and electronics. Solborg asked the musicians to “attack” the music and to approach it in ways they wouldn’t normally do. Then he added tapes of 18 interviewed voices, speaking in multiple languages, integrated into the rich textures of the music.

This work demands, naturally, deep listening, but its lyrical and intimate, patient, multifaceted and multi-layered nature also radiates a strong sense of freedom and compassion. Solborg says that this work creates a warm and unique garden of fables, a sonic haven to trust the listener’s affections, fears and dreams. And if I may add, a beautiful work that challenges simplistic, binary narratives of social media and demands more complex and thoughtful attention and sensitivity to the sonic details, languages and perspectives of these gifted musicians, as well as of the others around us. It certainly guarantees a powerful healing effect.

Highly recommended.

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