STIAN WESTERHUS: The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on Sep 27th 2012 09:36 pm

Stian Westerhus: The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers

The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers
Rune Grammofon 2012
09 Tracks. 40mins04secs

 Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD

Listening to Stian Westerhus’s solo work gives little clue of what exactly is his instrument of choice. Dark, complex, broken, his soundscapes are haunting to say the least. Perhaps the recurring presence of bowed strings provides something of a clue, but nothing clearly points to the electric guitar, yet it is the instrument which Westerhus uses, and, crucially, it is the only instrument used on this album.

Westerhus’s taste for experimental guitar sounds stems from seeing Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock interpretation of Star Spangled Banner on TV when he was just thirteen years old. This prompted the young Norwegian musician, now aged thirty one, to explore the possibility of the electric guitar and dare go beyond the conventional approach to the instrument. Continue Reading »

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SIDSEL ENDRESEN & STIAN WESTERHUS: Didymoi Dreams (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on Aug 21st 2012 09:16 pm

Sisdel Endresen & Stian Westerhus: Didymoi Dreams

Didymoi Dreams
Rune Grammofon 2012
11 Tracks. 59mins12secs

 Amazon UK: CD US: CD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

There are few vocalists more fearless and thrilling than Norwegian singer Sidsel Endresen. From traditional vocal forms, she has developed a style all of her own, sung mostly in a made-up language which range from hums and repetitive fragments of semi-recognisable words to harshly syncopated noises, resembling a form of scat for the electronic age. What makes her performances real tours de force is that all vocals are always recorded live, never processed or sampled. From her time as a member of Jon Eberson Group, with whom she recorded five albums between 1981 and 1987, she went on release a number of solo albums for ECM, Jazzland and Sofa. Over the years, she has also built a particularly solid and fertile musical relationship with Bugge Wesseltoft; the duo have recorded three albums, and Wesseltoft is a regular contributor to some of her other projects. Continue Reading »

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ESPEN ERIKSEN TRIO: What Took You So Long (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on Jul 12th 2012 01:38 am

Espen Eriksen Trio: What Took You So Long

What Took You So Long
Rune Grammofon 2012
10 Tracks. 42mins21secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD UK: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP iTunes: DLD

Espen Eriksen Trio’s debut, You Had Me At Goodbye, published two years ago on Rune Grammofon, was a thing of great beauty, its lush piano-led jazz, fluid and melodic, developed over the course of the whole record in a variety of delicate hues. On their second opus, What Took You So Long, the Scandinavian trio pick up where they left off two years ago with eight new compositions and two somewhat unexpected cover versions. Continue Reading »

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FIRE! WITH OREN AMBARCHI: In The Mouth – A Hand (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on Jun 26th 2012 09:21 pm

Fire! with Oren Ambarchi: In The Mouth - A Hand

In The Mouth – A Hand
Rune Grammofon 2012
04 Tracks. 68mins37secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP US: CD | LP Boomkat: CD | LP

A few weeks after the release of their collaborative effort with Jim O’Rourke, Swedish power trio Fire! (Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werlin) teamed up with Australian experimental guitarist Oren Ambarchi for a short run of UK dates. Recorded in London following two nights at the Vortex, In The Mouth – A Hand capitalises on the quartet’s live performances by attempting to capture the raw energy infusing their blend of free jazz, rock and kosmische.

Like O’Rourke before him, Ambarchi assumes full membership alongside the trio’s core players and drizzles guitar textures throughout this entire record Continue Reading »

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SUSANNA: Wild Dog (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on May 22nd 2012 01:38 am

Susanna: Wild Dog

Wild Dog
Rune Grammofon 2012
10 Tracks. 35mins01secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

With or without her Magical Orchestra, the duo she formed with Morten Qvenild almost ten years ago, Susanna Wallumrød has built quite an odd catalogue of material both original and, most prominently quite unfortunately, covers. Whilst the first Susanna & The Magical Orchestra album only contained two (she famously revisited Dolly Parton’s Jolene and Leonard Bernstein’s Who Am I), the pair’s second saw them take on anyone from Depeche Mode, Joy Division and Leonard Cohen to Prince or AC/DC and indiscriminately apply their ultra sensitive pop onto them. This was far from being an entirely successful endeavour, and saw them risking to compromise some of the brilliant songwriting moments they had shows on their debut and becoming a predictably formulaic partnership. Wallumrød threw further doubts on her work with her second solo effort, on which she once again forwent her talent as a songwriter to interpret songs by Will Oldham, Nico, Sandy Denny, Roy Harper or Abba.

A quick look at the track listing of her third solo effort for Rune Grammofon, her fourth in total, would have anyone think she is once again up to her old tricks (Imagine, Lonely Heart); a listen however quickly dispels any doubt that Ms Wallumrød is here to deliver her own material and nothing else. Continue Reading »

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Phaedra/Jenny Hval, The Borderline, London, 19/3/2012

themilkman on Mar 20th 2012 01:09 am

Welcome To Norway: Phaedra/Jenny Hval, The Borderline, London, 19/3/2012

Although primarily a cauldron of jazz, noise and electronic experimentations, Rune Grammofon have never shied away from gentler musical forms, most notably with Susanna Wallumrød, with or her Magical Orchestra, or Hilde Marie Kjersem. Last year, the label opened its doors to two more Norwegian female singer songwriters, Ingvild LanggÃ¥rd, who officiates as Phaedra and Jenny Hval, who both delivered stunning, if very different, records (The Sea, a folk odyssey of sort, and Viscera, a much more angular and disconcerting project, respectively). After a false start last year due to a venue double-booking a date, the pair finally hit London this Monday evening at the Borderline in central London. Continue Reading »

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ALOG: Unemployed (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on Mar 19th 2012 12:38 am

Alog: Unemployed (LP)

Rune Grammofon 2012
25 Tracks. 153mins30secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Normally purveyors of refined intricate electro-acoustic music, Norwegian duo Alog adopted a very different approach with their latest record, deliberately leaving some pieces in an unfinished, unpolished state, and leaving their overall working processes much more to chance. They recorded with a handful of contributors (Sigbjørn Apeland, Jenny Hval, Sheriffs Of Nothingness, Jaap Blonk), reworking and incorporating some of their compositions into their own. During the three years they spent recording, Espen Sommer Eide and Dag-Are Haugan collected a wealth of material. In its full expanded glory, Unemployed stretches over four LPs and nearly three hours, with its edited CD version still clocking at seventy-six minutes.

Most of the tracks featured on the first and second LPs are also included on the CD, apart for Kompass and Leisure. Continue Reading »

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INTERVIEW: ALOG From The Ground Up

themilkman on Feb 5th 2012 05:30 pm


In the fifteen years since they formed Alog, Norwegian musicians Espen Sommer Eide and Dag-Are Haugan have released some extremely original and fascinating records, made from a vast array of acoustic and electronic instruments, most of which they build themselves, With their new album, their fifth, they have worked with a number of other musicians and involved them in the creative process. In its complete version, the album stretches over four LPs and 2 and a half hours. Here, Alog talk about their formative years, how the new album came together, working with collaborators and how playing live has to be approached very differently.

Continue Reading »

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ALOG: Unemployed (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on Jan 17th 2012 01:38 am

Alog: Unemployed

Rune Grammofon 2012
14 Tracks. 76mins30secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Even put against the monumental variety of the Rune Grammofon catalogue, Norwegian duo Alog have always stood out from the crowd. Formed by Espen Sommer Eide and Dag-Are Haugan in the late nineties while they both lived in Tromsø, northern Norway, they have, over the course of four albums for Rune Grammofon plus a handful of limited releases elsewhere, carved a very particular niche for themselves. Combining acoustic and electric instrumentation, part of which is custom-built, with electronic processing, the pair continue to invent a totally unique and often fascinating sound world away from pretty much anything else.

In its full version, presented as a quadruple LP, of which only 300 copies have been pressed, Unemployed contains over two hours of new music, of which approximately half has been squeezed into the more widely available CD version. Continue Reading »

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INTERVIEW: THOMAS STRØNEN The Importance Of Being Thomas Strønen

themilkman on Dec 4th 2011 08:48 pm

INTERVIEW: THOMAS STRØNEN: The Importance Of Being Thomas Strønen

Thomas Strønen is undoubtedly one of the most talented drummers of his generation. A member of Food, Humcrush, Meadow, Monsters & Puppets and many more, his very diverse, yet highly recognisable style puts him is at the heart of these projects. With new albums from Monsters & Puppets, Humcrush and The Living Room, Thomas takes some time off his incredibly busy schedule to talk to themilkfactory about how he started playing drums, his long-standing collaboration with Iain Ballamy as Food, his relationship with Maria Kannegaard and how it led to Monsters & Puppets, and what his next solo project may be. Continue Reading »

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HUMCRUSH with SIDSEL ENDRESEN: Ha! (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on Oct 25th 2011 01:45 am

Humcrush with Sidsel Endresen: Ha!

Rune Grammofon 2011
09 Tracks. 41mins37secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD

A singer with a totally unique and challenging vision who has developed improvisational techniques which invariably takes her way beyond language into territories where her voice becomes an extremely versatile and visceral instrument, Sidsel Endresen has worked extensively with Bugge Wesseltoft, recording three albums with him between 1998 and 2002, and has also collaborated with Nils Petter Molvær, Django Bates, Christian Wallumrød and Helge Sten, Jan Bang or HÃ¥kon Kornstad to name but a few. Here, she joins Humcrush, the duo formed of keyboard player StÃ¥le Storløkken, who, although best known for his contribution to Veslefrekk and Supersilent, is also a driving force behind Elephant9 and Box, and drummer Thomas Strønen, who, beside his work alongside British saxophonist Iain Ballamy in Food, can be found performing as part of Meadow, the Maria Kannergaard Trio, the Mats Eilertsen Trio and recently Monsters And Puppets. Continue Reading »

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SPUNK: Light (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on Jul 15th 2011 12:43 am

Spunk: Light

Rune Grammofon 2011
01 Track. 42mins29secs

Amazon UK: DVD Boomkat: DVD

For all intents and purposes, all-female Norwegian experimental noise improv ensemble Spunk are extremely difficult to pin down. Experimental, they are without a doubt, and noise is their primary field of expression, but reducing them to just this is most certainly missing the point entirely. All four members (Kristin Andersen – trumpet, Lene Grenager – cello, Maja Ratkje – voice and electronics, Hild Sofie Tajford – French horn and electronics) are highly regarded musicians and composers in their own rights, with respective careers to put to shame even the most fervent of serial collaborative individual on the Norwegian scene. They have performed together for over fifteen years, and recorded four albums, their most recent, Kantarell (2009), was released ten years after their debut.

This DVD captures the quartet in their most natural environment, improvising live in front of an audience. Continue Reading »

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