LARS HORNTVETH: Kaleidoscopic (Smalltown Supersound)


Posted on Feb 5th 2009 12:19 am

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Lars Horntveth: Kaleidoscopic

Smalltown Supersound 2009
01 Track. 36mins47secs

One of the founding members of the all-out bopping Jaga Jazzist ensemble, Lars Horntveth surprised some years ago with a refined and mature debut solo output. On Pooka, Horntveth was seemingly applying some of the same concept he had helped develop with Jaga, but, he also hinted at much more elaborated music processes and showed a taste for orchestral forms. With his second effort, delivered five years on, he steps up the pace and takes on the challenge of working with a full classical formation, the Latvian National Orchestra, on a single piece.

The concept at the core of Kaleidoscopic came up as Horntveth was looking for a different way of writing music. Instead of focussing on minute vignettes and assembling them into a coherent album, forgetting any aspect of chronology in the process, he embarked on an experiment which would allow him to build a piece of music with time by continuously adding to it, a bit like a weaver relentlessly adds to a tapestry. The result is a piece which evolves, morphs and takes shape over the course of just under forty minutes, through singular themes and recurring patterns.

What is striking here is the impeccable flow that runs through the highly contrasted and vibrant orchestrations and shapes the sweeping melodies of the piece. At times pastoral and flowing with emotions, at others more restrained and delicate, Kaleidoscopic is a roller-coaster of a composition which takes many unpredictable turns, occasionally drifting along for a moment, building into intense and vivid climaxes, snaking gracefully through gentle acoustic guitars or exploding into myriad of tiny particles. At its most passionate and ornate, there is a fine cinematic grandeur about the piece which evokes vast plains of lush greens, rich blues and warm yellows, while, when it retreats to much more minimal structures, it becomes almost too fragile to make an impact at all. And when it seems to have finally come to rest, a short appendix rises softly, as to put a last finishing touch.

Kaleidoscope is a truly unique and ambitious composition, which, while feeding from Lars Horntveth’s previous work, resembles very little of what he has produced so far. That he manages to continuously revive the interest and keep the momentum going throughout is no mean feat, and it is, if anything, a testament to his musicianship.


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