“The Jutlandia Quartets” offers immersive subversions of the classical music genre
The new album from the Copenhagen-based instrumental ensemble boli group, presented by Haunter Records, is a collection of monochromatic uneasy pieces that manifests the negative emotions of a bad homecoming. A non forced power play with the institutions of “classical music”
“The Jutlandia Quartets” was written by composer Aase Nielsen during her 1 year return to Jutland (Rural Denmark) in 2018. The compositions examine regional folk music, evergreens, popular and institutional music, and materializes this examination into new music. But there’s no romance in the rural, it seems, this project communicates a rather pessimist sentiment.
Taking name after a Danish garden furniture company, “The Jutlandia Quartets” does not only situate itself geographically but also metaphorically, raising a question on comfort, alluding to passive aggressive middle class environments and idealized ideas of the country side. What does a word like “country” even mean to anyone having been systematically excluded by it?
A composed anxiety runs through the pieces; it seems as if the musical material is thinking about its own constitution. The pieces are all formalist at their core, asking the tradition of composition questions: How little does it take to constitute a “proper” piece of music?
These questions and answers are expressed in a continuous examination of the concept of “strings” (string quartets, cello quartets, heavily processed samples and General MIDI) and the pieces almost becomes a comparative analysis in connection to each other. In this monochromatic configuration, the music also comes of as purposefully anti-original.
There is a distinct self-awareness in Aase Nielsen compositions and aesthetics. Considering how she has been enrolled in the institution, her familiarity with (and hence ability to perform) its formalities, Aase Nielsens work comes across as an institutional drag or cos-play: it seems as if boli group is posing in classical music. “The Jutlandia Quartets” take shape as a body used to orchestrate the daddy issues of the tradition; dressing up in the patriarchs clothes and playing his game in his own house. And by playing the game, maybe implying oneself in the process.
Despite the intense and immersive quality of the pieces, the music also functions as background/mood music! An area that boli group as an ensemble seems to continuously investigate. Previous releases has touched upon the sound of Matiné music, TV-music, dramatic music and Wedding String Quartets. But the Music also functions as “fine music”, that can be investigated in depth. You can engage with it, but also exist aside it. You could call it a “non-forced power play”, a power play that does not have domination as its end-goal. A music that does not try to dominate its listener, but opens up a space with the possibilities of different ways of engaging. A silent critique of the concept of the genius composer who forcefully leads you through his grandeur perhaps. A politically submissive music maybe.
In many cases, the music also exposes its own making: edits, cuts, textures and artifacts from the production remain audible to remind us of its own means of production. An anti-ambient manner underlining that the work is not a fantasy that aims to lull you away from reality. Here the absence of reverb fx and other comforts might be read as a refraining from saying, everything is going to be okay.
Illustrations: Aase Nielsen
Pictures: Aase Nielsen & Ribka Pattinama
Layout: Aase Nielsen & Wilfred Wagner
Mastered by Amir Shoat