The trio of fiddle player Erlend Apneseth with guitarist Stephan Meidell and drummer Oyvind Hegg-Lunde follows up their Nordic Prize-nominated album of 2019, 'Salika, Molika', with a remarkable suite of tunes inspired by the rhythms and physicality of the human body in motion.
Originally commissioned by FRIKAR Dance Company to accompany the performance of a new work, 'Skaut', dealing with the covering of the body in different cultures, the music of 'Lokk' takes the trio further than ever before into completely fresh areas of electro-acoustic improvisation. The sounds of their original instruments are integrated with electronic beats and treated textures to form a kind of enhanced digital-folk style whose influences stretch from traditional south Asian ragas to contemporary dance culture from around the globe. The result is intense, and intensely rhythmic, music where the normally separate realms of the cerebral and the corporeal can appear to fuse into one irresistible groove. As the trio rocks on - in a dream of perfect interplay between instruments and players, soloists and ensemble - deep, trembling sub-bass intersects with ethereal ambient soundscapes. Elsewhere, the twittering of birdsong - from both real bird-calls and the uncanny imitation of them by Apneseth's Hardanger fiddle - meets archival recordings of Norwegian herdswomen.
"Our musical idea for this project was to unite different extremes, connections that felt "forbidden" in one form or another", says Stephan Meidell. "For example, by using the sampled recording of traditional herd-calling, blended together with aesthetics from more contemporary music styles. This exploration has led us further into a rhythmic and danceable landscape than in previous releases. We also wanted to use this opportunity to deliberately make more dance-related music. As regards the original commission, were pretty free to do what we wanted, but there was one specific dance in mind, 'Valdresspringar', for which Erlend wrote the melody. It's a traditional, asymmetrical dance and has a very particular form. The melody is on the track called 'Springar', which we then messed around with."
This "messing around with" element is key to the sound of 'Lokk', whose playful experimentation over the nine separate tracks creates a beguiling, constantly surprising sense of adventure and intrigue that both draws the listener in, and then keeps them on their toes as to where the next stage of the journey will take them. It also becomes inescapably obvious that this is a group of three equals. The contributions of Stephan Meidell and Oyvind Hegg-Lunde, as musicians, co-composers and producers, appear every bit as important as that of Erlend Apneseth, who performs superbly throughout. "Even though the trio carries Erlend's name, it's a band in every sense of the word", says Stephan Meidell. "We make the music together, where everyone brings their ideas and we build on each other's input and output. This is not our "coming out" as a band, but the group is sometimes interpreted as having a hierarchical structure, as a soloist and accompaniment."
As is evident from the trio's live performances, where each member seamlessly integrates the acoustic and the electronic elements in their respective sounds through constant monitoring and tweaking, Apneseth, Meidell and Hegg-Lunde are also pioneers, creating real-time effects that in the past were only available through post-production or the intervention of a sympathetic engineer and a truck-load of kit. 'Lokk' translates this fleet-footed improvisational approach, and the players' lightning-speed reaction times, back into the environment of the recording studio, where the music composed for the original FRIKAR dance piece was further embellished and adapted. Played live, it will continue to change again, as improvised music always does.
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