Blow.Amplifier by Espen Lund

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Espen Lund | Blow.Amplifier
One BPM (DL)

On his very first solo record Norwegian musician Espen Lund (of Yuma Sun and Bergen Improstorband) debuts three solo pieces for the electric trumpet, recorded live in the studio. He describes the process: “The goal was to push the natural trumpet sound as far as we could, while still maintaining the feel of the instrument. To do this we lined up the studio walls with amplifiers, and as the album progressed we pushed them further and further. Unfortunately, none of them did actually blow up, as the album title might suggest.” Since I am very much interested in how wind instruments can sound like something other than they are my interest was further piqued by his assertion: “The results sounds something like Don Cherry, if he came back and joined Sunn 0))).” Because I am an avid listener of both of those mentioned I offer my judgement.

Bergen-based Lund is not obfuscating his instrument from the very beginning, he’s warming the metal for the half-hour plus unexpected performance. And after a minute and a half the amp is cranked. What results is the awkward fusion between despondent jazz and muddled rock reverb. It’s a strange conversation between the power of electronics and elongated human breath. His short horn toots are obliterated almost entirely when engaged with the sci-fi halo of the voluminous amplifier that starts to sound like the soundtrack for the cult classic Zardoz. But Lund manages to wriggle around the buzz and at one point it sounds as though his blowing has actually triggered the feedback. This is definitely plugged in, and more atonal than not. It’s some of the intermediate, incidental percussive noise that grabs my attention in the quieter transitions. It’s a complex piece with more questions than answers.

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White Mass begins with a series of gurgling and noise. Screetchy pitch and random fidgeting with items sounds like rummaging through a junk drawer – only leading to more harsh feedback. Though the track runs a short three minutes my ears are thankful for its sharp conclusion. Finally on The Great Equalizer the rev of guitar delights with a stretched thinly tone that glimmers of an uncertain shoegazing darkness. This is not your average noodling upon strings, there is great care in allowing each chord to rise and effervesce. It reminded me of a Philip Glass score for a split second, and then tucks itself away, but then repeats the same gesture, only emphasizing the reference.

While I don’t particularly hear either of his intended examples, perhaps at some of the more fever pitch moments here there may be a metamorphosis of all of the above, but it’s a stretch. No, really, the sound is bent to the point of the widest expansion aurally possible, and it keeps growing and dividing – especially on this phenomenal final piece. The dark corners are illuminated not just by the velocity of the potent drone, but in the subtle control Lund has commandeered to bring the largess of the composition back down into a relatively ambient space. Here he dramatically layers it with a whole lotta industrial din in the final stretch, a ghostly few minutes that eventually disintegrate.

A great record for gentle sleepwalkers.
Stream on Spotify and Amazon.

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