Schwalm/Henriksen, Levin/Peyghambari/Nyman, MeVsMyself
J.Peter Schwalm, Arve Henriksen – Neuzeit (RareNoise, 2020)
Subtly deceiving, apparently static, the music of J.Peter Schwalm has been perfectly captured in the title of his previous recording on RareNoise label, How We Fall. The German musician produces something so apt to be considered the perfect representation of a cinematic action, it could be called a perennial fall captured on camera. The sparse chords played by the piano and punctuated by casual cymbals at the opening of Blutezeit seem to be the perfect ground for a pastoral, wandering litany by the Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen. But there’s this sinister, delicately punching, bass sound, so well hidden in the mix, that silently grows. Until the fourth minute mark, when Henriksen stops on a single note, ponders and opens his eyes watching the tornado spiralling from the inside. Schwalm has created his trademark interweaving cluster of music, that Henriksen elicits with a masterfully crafted, slightly dissonant note over the hypnotic fall of synth noises.
Meeting in this recording titled Neuzeit, J.Peter Schwalm and Arve Henriksen perfectly match their own frameworks. It seems pleonastic to remark this is just the first time they release an album together. The trumpeter, one of the musicians who changed the Norwegian jazz in the 90s, has played with the highest rank of musicians, including David Sylvian, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Gavin Bryars, Nils Petter Molvær, Arild Andersen, Jon Balke. The encounter with Schwalm seems to be born on -not a surprise- a fertile ground. The German electronic composer is well at ease within the folk-imbued Norwegian moods, having collaborated with Eivind Aarset, or in the ambient reveries, since his experience with Brian Eno. Their visions perfectly match: Arve Henriksen delivers some of the most inspired melodies in this recording, running in parallel with the work Schwalm does in creating his trademark balance between organic and digital sounds.
Whether the Norwegian trumpter loves to create big brass layers, often adding his pristine voice on the top, Schwalm often turns to a muffled piano to support inspired seascapes. The two conjure moments of scintillating and shimmering clarity through dismal and dark portraits. The almost Romantic serenade of the underwater piano in Unzeit doesn’t stop Henriksen unfurling an ominous single note and taking the scene.
The majestic strings arrangement in Schonzeit is another amazing example of Schwalm‘s approach to music. A contrapunctual structure twists and plays with the kaleidoscopic spirals that he loves, doubled by the trumpter’s layers of a maximalist brass. Around the fourth minute mark, Henriksen lands on a such inspired melody, that closes the crescendo: a sharp and clear cadenza, that could be easily taken from his early solo albums on Rune Grammofon.
Rooted in the mix of the words ‘new’ and ‘time’, the title Neuzeit is perfectly apt to describe this moment like no other. All titles in the recording are like variations, a journey through a new world of meanings. Inspired and captivating, this duo release surprises for how much the two are capable of pinpointing at each other’s strenghts and vision.
J. Peter Schwalm: pianos, electronics and programming Arve Henriksen: trumpets, percussion and voices
Directions in Music by J. Peter Schwalm
Mixed, edited and mastered by J. Peter Schwalm at Mainsound/Frankfurt
Photography and design by Damir Tomaš
Music published by Tono and Edition Outshine/Universal Music Publishing
Produced by J. Peter Schwalm
Executive producer for RareNoiseRecords: Giacomo Bruzzo
Stefan Levin/Soheil Payghambari/Hans Nyman – Småland Project – SCAPES (Playground Music Scandinavia, 2020)
A ruminative interweaving of sounds that demands a cramming listening attitude, the music in Småland Project – SCAPES depitcs the lucky encounter between Swedish classical guitarists pair Stefan Levin and Hans Nyman with Iranian clarinetist Soheil Peyghambari. When Levin listened a duo piece for vacuum cleaner and clarinet on Soundcloud, decided to approach Peyghambari; 6 years later they release the result of that encounter. A richful array of watercolors, often bouncing from earthy to abstract music, a balance between multiple folk roots. The two classical guitars dialogue like a single one with the clarinet, giving birth to occasionally uncanny, often meditative moods that gently dance together.
The Swedish Levin and Nyman have already many years of collaborations with dance and theater music behind them before meeting with Peyghambari. Their classical guitar style seamlessly mixes improvisation with European folk music and contemporary jazz, recalling the likes of Ralph Towner, Egberto Gismonti an Ferenc Snetberger. The Iranian clarinetist Peyghambari is a member of the band Quartet Dimished, which mixes jazz, Iranian classical music and art-rock in an almost unique manner. Playing his own music, he likes to venture in avant garde territories and push the boundaries of his instrument, mixing minimalism or electronic elements.
The descending gloomy theme depicted on the lowest register by Peyghambari in the opening Formica creates an intense contrast with the high pitches of the nylon stringed instruments. Levin and Nyman travel through folk scales, explore resonances, occasionally collide or echo the clarinet. Around the two minutes and half mark, when no theme has surfaced yet, the two descend on the lowest string, a sort of cadenza. It’s just a momentary stop, before they start an inquisitive dialogue with the clarinet through gloomy and suspended slices of themes.
The drumless trio shows a masterful command on rhythm, with the three exploring multiple solutions, whether the clarinet drives bass beats with breathing intensity or the classical guitars create intricate and twisting layers. Vipera explores these couterpointing arrays, before a calm and surrendering melody restores an introspective mood.
Peyghambari often feels no need to intervene, others it’s sitting at the center of the scene. The circular breathing pattern underneath Inamabilis Sciurus is a show of virtuosism by a player who rarely wants to show off. Levin and Nyman respectfully sit behind the curtain and incidentally reinforce the clarinetist’s action. Noctis, one of the few thematic pieces, is gentle, conjuring an intimate sense of beauty. The closing Aurora, on the contrary, ponders on an abstract improvisation, closed by a revealing improvisation duo by Soheil Peyghambari and flutist guest, Göran Månsson.
An album of clever and introspective music that paints delicate watercolors, Småland project SCAPES, despite being recorded in one of the most beautiful, yet central islands in Stockholm, is a representation of pastoral beauty.
Småland Project – Scapes
1.Scape I – Formica
2.Scape II – Vipera
3.Scape III – Inamabilis Sciurus
4.Scape IV – Lucius
5.Scape V – Ac Lucusta Singula
6.Scape VI – Lacus
7.Scape VII – Noctis
8.Scape VIII – Aurora
Stefan Levin – classical guitar
Hans Nyman – classical guitar
Soheil Peyghambari – clarinet
MeVsMyself – Mictlàn (2019)
I am puzzled in front of those assuming certain instruments are allowed solo recordings, while others are not. This eyebrow-raise happens with drummers playing solo recordings, and voice might follow in the list. Giorgio Pinardi‘s voice, under the acronym of MeVsMyself, is the sole instrument in his sophomore recording Mictlàn, a mixture of archaic and folk investigations through the globe. And it is often hard to think only voice and a looping machine are creating such those sounds. Take the hieratic opening in Tin Hinan, spurred by a reed-like rendering of the human voice, creating a sort of aerial soundscape. And the following, cheerful detour though Flamenco roots is so captivating, even if no nylon stringed guitar is heard.
Vocal jazz is the reference in Gurfa, while Mbuki-Mvuki gently merges Western African roots with soulful leanings in world music, and advanced rhythmic concepts. Wordless or tinged with words, Pinardi‘s voice develops layers of sounds and pitches. A full exploration of the vocal spectrum. He eventually likes to venture in pure noise exploration, like in Sygyzy, a pastiche dark and cheerful at once that balances metal growl with sciamanic performance. Tingo is a soulful tip-toe-tapping song, while Ohrwurm‘s ethnic atmosphere is driven by an hypnotic continuous bass.
Moving through Mongolian ethnic music, African roots, progressive rock or vocal jazz, every element is linked with others in surprising ways. Whether Bobby McFerrin, Demetrio Stratos or Sainkho Namtchylak are the reference masters, Pinardi’s music is enjoyable and respectful at the same time.
2.Tin Hinan 09:26
Giorgio Pinardi – voice