For the Middle Class
This is the debut release for Norwegian trio Huntsville. Huntville are Ivar Grydeland, (guitars, banjo, pedal steel guitar, etc.) Tonny Kluften (double bass, etc.) and Ingar Zach (percussion, tabla machine, sarangi box, shruti box, etc.) Grydeland and Zach founded the Sofa label for improvised music in 2000 and appear together in various projects on several of the label's releases. They have worked with Kluften since 1998, as the core of improvising ensemble No Spaghetti Edition and in the quartet HISS with British keyboardist Pat Thomas. The HISS CD from 2003, Zahir, shows the group's intense application of so-called free improvisation. The Huntsville project contrasts sharply with their earlier work, and this release reveals a quite different, more groove-based approach with strong elements of composition. Zach comments, "... during the last two or three years, our interest in country music and electronic music has developed into a sound we really wanted to investigate -- also Feldman and Cage, drone music, folk music..." The group's multi-instrumentalism means that this is no conventional guitar-bass-drums trio. On acoustic and electric guitar as well as banjo, Grydeland mixes finger-picking techniques with various types of bow, as well as acoustic and electronic devices. Tonny Kluften on double-bass uses various bows, sticks and rubber bands, while Zach produces a wide range of sounds on drum kit. They make striking use of a marvelous polyrhythmic approach pioneered by Ornette Coleman on "Lonely Woman," and Zach's locomotive groove is contrasted by the free tempo of plangent, folk-like acoustic guitar, in a kind of fractured descendent of the railroad blues. Alternately, the drums set up a tight and furious high-tempo, with the other instruments either at a slower tempo, or out of tempo completely. When the group lowers the energy levels, soft arpeggios on acoustic guitar are heard against percussive objects and a lone, rather erratic bass drum -- these effects are spare, haunting and quite beautiful. For The Middle Class displays a genuinely musical use of unexpected sounds and textures, allied with echoes of traditional genres in a radical new conceptual language.