Album review: Vital Weekly

ERLAND DAHLEN  –  CLOCKS (CD by Hubro Music)
STEIN URHEIM – UTOPIAN TALES (CD by Hubro Music)

‘Utopian tales’ is Urheim’s fourth solo album for Hubro Music. Urheim, a composer and slide-guitar
master from Bergen, Norway, is assisted by the Cosmolodic Orchestra, an ad hoc ensemble of six
reputed musicians: Kjetil Møster (Møster!), Mari Kvien Brunvoll (Building Instrument), Per Jørgensen
(Jøkleba), Ole Morten Vågan (Trondheim Jazz Orchestra), Jørgen Træen (Sir Dupermann) and Kåre
Opheim (Real Ones).  Urheim plays guitars, vocals, tamboura, Turkish tanbur, bass, samples, collages
and electronics. For this album Urheim took inspiration from micro-tonality. This brings of course
American composer Harry Partch to our mind, who worked extensively with this phenomenon.
Urheim refers in several of the titles to micro-tonality: ‘Mikrotonia’, ‘Just Intonation Island’ and
‘Trouble in Carnaticala’’, a reference to Carnatic music. In the track ‘Just Intonation Island’, that
sounds like a strange ambient collage of textures, Urheim uses samples from Hary Partch, Terry
Riley, and Lou Harrison among others. In contrast, a piece like ‘Trouble in Carnaticala’ is a grooving,
funky piece of music. Also ´Letter from Walden Two´ is a grooving piece of music. Other tracks are
more close to ambient music, like ´Mikrotonia´. The album concludes with the beautiful solo piece
‘Pala’, where Urheim puts all sounds, etc. aside, and chooses for an inspired solo statement. The
compositions by Urheim however don´t seem to offer many surprises or unexpected twists. It is
music of a pleasing nature.
Erland Dahlen presents his third album for Hubro Music, after ‘Rolling Bomber’(2012) and ‘Blossom
Bells’(2015). Everything is composed and played by Dahlen who uses a wide range of instruments:
drums and many percussion instruments, but also electronics, keyboards, voice, guitar, etc. Since the
mid 90s he played on many dozens albums. He may be best known as the drummer in “the successful
band Madrugada for the last years of the band’s life, and as the drummer in Nils Petter Molvær’s
different groups during the last years”. He plays as a duo with Geir Sundstøl and as a trio with Stian
Westerhus and the Pale Horses. He was nominated for a Spellemannspris (Norwegian Grammy) for
his previous album, ‘Blossom Bells’. Dahlen is a collector of musical instruments, and always searching
for new sounds. Which explains the battery of instruments used on this new album. Listening to his
rhythm-based music it is evident that Dahlen is a gifted drummer and percussionist. I enjoyed listening
to him as a drummer and arranger of multi-layered tapestries of sounds. With each listening one can
discover new instruments and sounds. His compositions however didn´t convince me very much. They
offer not much that made me wonder in one way or the other. What is left is thoroughly executed
instrumental music. (DM)
––– Address: http://hubromusic.com/

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