published: 6 /
Keith How investigates three recent releases from Norway’s eclectic Hubro label and discovers that, once again, the label breaks new and exciting ground.
Having listened to these latest offerings on the Hubro label, I was reminded of a recent night out at Raja’s, our local Indian restaurant. Obviously you are hungry and order poppadoms which come with those lovely side bowls of pickles. You never know just how they are going to taste, and often they give you a pleasant surprise. Just like the Hubro label.
So, first up, we have mango chutney and mint and yoghurt dips. Mild and delicious. Just like Trond Kallevag Hansen’s 'Bedehus and Hawaii' (Hubro2626). Hansen (guitar/electronics) channels Ry Cooder’s 'Paris Texas' with some Bill Frizell added in for good measure on this beautifully-paced album of guitar instrumentals. Ably assisted by pedal steel exponent Gier Sundstol, this album has that “back porch” feel of quiet contemplation. The appeal of 'Bedehus and Hawaii' is the unpretentious sense of atmosphere and spaciousness, which brings an almost devotional feel to proceedings. At no time though does the album fall into the trap of mediocrity or self-indulgence. The field recordings on 'Fartein Valen' add a sense of mystery, and the violin of Adrian Loseth Waade embroiders the compositions with delicate shades and textures. Ivar Myrset Ashram plays drums and Alexander Hoholm contributes double bass. Leisurely and intimate, this is the perfect late evening guitar album.
I am daring to move on to the lime pickle for my next poppadom which is perfectly matched with Exoterm's 'Exits into a Corridor'(Hubro2618). Exoterm is a Norway/U.S. “supergroup”, consisting of Kristoffer Berre Alberts (saxophones), Rune Nergaard (bass), Jim Black (drums) and Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, who spent two days in a Brooklyn studio together to record these six seemingly free form compositions that have the effect of lime pickle, for sure. Opening with 'First Light', you are lulled into a sense of stillness on this atmospheric opener. Saxophone drones nicely over percussion and experimental electronics, and I’m thinking this lime pickle is not as hot as they tell me!
From then on it’s hold on to your hats. The fire begins to burn. 'Forest Mist – Night' finds Black’s simple heavy beat laying down a foundation for some wild saxophone that develops into a dark jazzy riff.
'Exits' develops, like the pickle, into something fiery hot and wild. An exothermic reaction releases energy into the atmosphere, and that is what is happening here. Sometimes post punk thrash(!), sometimes crazy banshee wailing jazz and full of twists and turns, it breaks down any barriers between rock, jazz and improvisation. Sonically this is a massive canvas with moments of quieter stillness ('Moves Away from the Door') and a maelstrom of pulsating electronic chaos and deep experimentation as found on 'Manufacturing a Smile'. At first listen, parts of 'Exit' appear impenetrable and challenging but once you are used to the taste you desire more...(just like lime pickle).
I’m having tangy onion chutney on my final poppadom in the shape of 'Et Han Mot Overklassen', the latest release from Bushman’s Revenge (Hubro 2628). Consisting of Gard Nilssen (drums, electronics, vibraphone), Even Helte Hermansen (guitars, electronics) and the aforementioned Rune Nergaard (bass,organ, electronics),they were formed in 2007 and have recorded nine albums. This new album reflects the competence and experience of the group. Ten tracks of lengthy effortless atmospheric instrumental delight that, like tangy onion chutney, let your taste buds zing. With everything from spacey blues jams to Alice Coltrane-influenced drones, this album forges its own path. At first seemingly guitar heavy further inspection reveals a trio revelling in sympathetic empathy - Such is the symbiotic flow between bass, drums and guitar and the cleverly introduced electronic textures. At no time are the musicians guilty of self-indulgence; in fact the opposite applies. By seamlessly fusing tracks together with restraint and care this becomes a convincing example of tasteful modern music. Interestingly the band rework Neergard’s composition 'Moves Away from the Door', which is featured on Exoterm’s 'Exit' album. A fine example of how many Scandinavian musicians are able and willing to collaborate together in different genres of music,
'Et Han Mot Overklassen' is immersive, inventive and, yes, tangy and satisfying.
Three fine examples of Hubro’s continuing exploration of different genres of music, performed by top class players given the freedom to express themselves. Often challenging, sometimes daring and always thought provoking and interesting. A label moving on 'The Road Less Travelled'.
Hubro Music (19)
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