Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø + Daniel Lercher + Julie Rokseth
Off The Coast (Sofa, LP/CD/DL)
A tiny flutter opens the title track of the new recording by this trio blending noise processing (Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø) and software (Daniel Lercher) with harp (Julie Rokseth) and the results are micro manifestations of buzzy reverb and hushed tones. Off The Coast sounds as its title, like a lonely buoy on the open waters, bobbing in a dusky light, and far from civilization. It’s a rather soft open.
As the trio moves back to Inside Elements you can clearly hear the creaks of the architecture in which these field recordings were made, and the rising waves. And all is quite still ’til a male voice appears, guest Aksel Johansen, an octogenarian Sula original, contributes a short folk song about the remote island off Trondheim. His voice has a warm, worn cadence and perfectly melds into the mix of atmosphere and elongated effects. As his sweetly crooned tale attests to the sense of place and as we move further into the next tracks I could easily imagine them having used his voice moreso, even if via treatments, but this is his only appearance. The bounce of strings, the subjugated pitch, and the low-to-the-ground melody is parsed with a setting that is subliminal and fatigued.
Farther Away offers a single swerving sound wave, filling the room with a pulse of bass lows. The more it dips the more cerebral and foreign it becomes, like a jet engine charging for fuel. Though this is atypical for anything within the field of industrial noise, it has a common thread, but its slack timing breaks the tension. The tone, now twinkling at an even higher range on the final track, Winding, is an atonal warm-up. Its cosmogonic, split-stream timbre is at the top of human range, and as it pings away draws a curvilinear shape in mid air.
I’m only now realizing that this record seems to be staged in two separate cycles (tracks 1-2 + tracks 3-4) as this isolated piece has far less in common with the lapping waves heard from the start, and its progression may be the result of some sort of fleeting experiment. As they explain: “By slowly letting the new material unfold and layering a range of sound sources in addition to the duo’s regular setup, it soon became clear that the physical impact of the islands grounded people, intense weather and striking 360 degree ocean view would affect the music more than anticipated.”
GONE FISHIN‘: The effect on this finale is quizzical to these old ears, much more of an in-situ experiment-in-progress and actually kind of raw. Fortunately the final three minutes starts to off a recall to tie the album back together. The most subtle influx of birds can be heard tweeting, and the pitch drops to what sounds more like a church organ rather than improvised test-tones and inaudible soundwaves. Perhaps the experiment was in measuring the wind and after the brisk bite of breeze coming off waters brought them back to their senses. #endscene