Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Marhaug / Asheim – Grand Mutation

Organs have figured prominently in the Touch catalogue over the last couple of years, most notably with the release of the two Spire compilations featuring artists exploring the intersection of acoustic tradition and electronic innovation. Grand Mutation places this intersection dead centre of Oslo Cathedral where noise artist Lasse Marhaug and organist Nils Henrik Asheim first crossed paths ruing the 2004 All Ears Festival. Returning to the cathedral in June 2006 they brought along engineer Thomas Hukkelberg to capture their monolithic improvisations. Starting with “Bordunal” the drone elements and resonant space serve to soothe and seduce the listener before eventually terrifying them. Marhaug’s electronics were played live through a loudspeaker to share the space more naturally with Asheim’s organ, initially leading the way. By the bridge into “Phoneuma” the distinction between the duo’s tonal palettes blurs, with Marhaug exhibiting a great patience for gradual change not always evident in his Jazzkammer work or recent collaborations with Maya Ratkje and Testicle Hazard. “Philomela” illustrates the denuded sound of air forced through the fluttering stops before interjecting tones and notes. Taken as a whole the work transits from pure tone through unadulterated noise and eventually into “Clavaeolina,” something closely resembling a devotional grandeur the space must usually host. After fire and brimstone returns a more benevolent deity, theoretically.

Touch Records

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