Swedish guitarist and composer Henrik Olsson is a new discovery to me. Living and working in Denmark, he is an active player on the experimental part of Copenhagen’s music scene. His technique and style are very personal, and he can be heard in various groups, including his own Penumbra Ensemble, which he made his debut recording with, or seriously experimental and radical EHM trio I already reviewed.
This regular guitar trio is completed by bassist Jeppe Skovbakke and drummer Rune Lohse, with two guest appearances by Julie Kjær – one of the shining stars of the Fire!Orchestra and mighty young Lionesses of all kinds of Wind instruments herself and Kristian Tangvik, an equally creative and active Tuba player, also a part of the Barefoot Records label, which is a unique conglomerate of artists taking full control over the music they are making and would like to maintain and bring to the market on their own terms.
Opening Aventurine, which sounds like nothing else you’ve heard from a guitar gives a good sense of adventure that listening to Olsson’s music brings. Short intro shows a lot of skill. As it goes further the trio develops in more natural way with the clear lead of the guitar and accompanying rhythm section. N.H.F.T.P.H.O.B which starts in conventional and melodic way quickly turns into guitarist’s tour de force. The piece carries a lot of humour due to a very formal melody structure contradicted by the electronically pimped tissue of the guitar rave, to end up again with the polite, almost predictable figures like pleating on a skirt.
Shocking method restores lost hair is an example of more challenging and experimental approach mixing samples of the broadcast with the guitar dialoguing with them in the way it sounds like jumping between the stations once tuning the old radio. Hence the parts bringing order are automatically twisted into part of the broadcast itself.
Collect in a bowl, let the afflicted person drink is a rocking horse, literally. Primus alike psychedelic sounds with changing tempo in the bass groove and rubato drumming are co- creating 3-dimensional structures with multi-layered guitar rides additionally textured inspiringally by quick changes of the fingering.
Hilarious moments, my 2nd favourite here continuous a bit in a similar spirit getting however to the point that layers become incredibly congested and entire tissue starts sounding almost micro-tonal. As pieces are short, they come out like a little gem, properly cut and grinded to show the best of it.
Let’s finish with the pieces with the quests involved then. The Voynich manuscript with flautist starts almost like Debussy’s Faun’s Afternoon, picturesque and warm with the wind lines overlapped with the clarinet, but this idyll breaks in the middle and turns into percussive culmination which yet breaks again into guitar invocation ending up unexpectedly, Such a title commits, but it also gives lots of freedom.
Black Tourmaline opens with Tuba intro which sets nice lyrical theme and lines which Julie’s flute repeats and expands over entire frequency giving a path on which Olsson can now slide any direction he likes, with closely following him section. It is a nice touch to add to the trio concept.
Similar contrast as ones that Ennio Morricone used to employ in his soundtracks and it not only worked for him but educated an entire generation with a new sonic eclecticism enriching the existing language. Here they are doing the same on their own terms to a certain degree, but we are a few decades further, so the borders do not look the same anymore.
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