Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal
On his new solo album, Håkon Mørch Stene has combined music by Britons Laurence Crane and Gavin Bryars with a new work by the distinctive Norwegian improviser and composer Christian Wallumrød. It is not necessary to take more than a quick glance at Norwegian percussionist Håkon Stene's CV to realize that here is a musician with a broad horizon and a fearless attitude towards new instruments and genres. Stene has played folk music with Nils Økland and Benedicte Maurseth, electronica with Pantha Du Prince and the Bell Laboratory, baroque music with Rolf Lislevand and contemporary music with asamisimasa, winner of a Spellemannspris (Norwegian Grammy). After many years of focusing on noise-based and complex contemporary music, Stene found it important to once again be able to work with clean, simple and harmonious expressive idioms. On the album he plays, in addition to melodic percussion instruments, both piano and guitar -- the latter being an instrument he had not touched for nearly 20 years. British compositions dominate Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal. Both Gavin Bryars (born in Yorkshire, 1943) and Laurence Crane (born in Oxford, 1961) belong to the classic experimental scene in England, a scene that developed in the wake of the conceptual New York School in the 1960s. The Englishmen draw inspiration from composers such as Cage and Feldman, as well as from earlier cult figures such as Eric Satie, who anticipated genres such as minimalism and ambient as far back as the early 1900s. Unlike the music of the New York School, where everyday noise, atonal harmonies and extreme duration were central elements, that of Bryars and Crane is based on a concentrated diatonic material that is liberated from a traditional tonal logic and is treated as an abstract sound object. Stene was fascinated by this ascetic, protracted, subdued music. The piece "Low Genths" was written by Christian Wallumrød on commission from Stene in 2009, and Wallumrød also plays on the album. When searching for the final piece on the record, Stene discovered Bryars' "Hi Tremolo," which suited the melancholic but sumptuous soundscape on Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal. In addition to Wallumrød, Stene invited pianist Heloisa Amaral, cellist Tanja Orning and cimbalom player Hans Kristian Kjos Sørensen to participate in the recording. Some listeners would undoubtedly label this music "contemporary," but it could equally find a place for fans of post-rock, ambient or drone. Håkon Stene (vibraphone, quartertone vibraphone, bowed marimba, electric guitar, acoustic guitar with e-bow, keyboards, piano on 9); Christian Wallumrød (piano on 1 & 8).