Jo Berger Myhre (Splashgirl, Nils Petter Molvær, Susanna) and Ólafur Björn Ólafsson (Sigur Rós, Jónsi, Jóhann Jóhannsson) form new duo and announce the release of a debut LP (CD included) on June 9 (available in Norway from May 26).
Norway meets Iceland in wildly inventive ambient-gothic improvisations recorded in an abandoned Reykjavik warehouse Jo Berger Myhre and Ólafur Björn Ólafsson have created a strikingly original sound-world that, while it may have its antecedents, doesn’t really remind you of anyone else.
Despite a dodgy tendency towards what might be called geographical or even metereological determinism whereby we attempt to identify and define art according to where in the world it comes from, and whether it was likely to be sunny or rainy, warm or cold, it’s impossible to ignore issues of provenance. Perhaps because music is the most abstract of the arts, it can’t help but absorb and reflect aspects related to its conception and production, which are then reflected once again by the experiences and imagination of the listener. If the music is truly open, these associations have room to grow and deepen. So it is with the thrillingly vivid and allusive contents of ‘The Third Script’, made in a Reykjavik studio by a Norwegian, Jo Berger Myhre (double bass, electronics), and an Icelander, Ólafur Björn Ólafsson (keyboards, drums).
"My studio is at the outskirts of Reykjavik in an abandoned factory warehouse, by the dumpsters where they recycle”, says Ólafsson who as well as working on his own projects for concert music, theatre and film has toured with Sigur Ros, Jonsi and recorded with Jóhann Jóhannsson. “I sometimes go out and gather stuff that has been thrown away and use it for percussion instruments. The studio is by the sea, and it has a very lively room with lots of instruments and weird old gadgets plus some obsolete tape machines. I think we perhaps drew inspiration from these surroundings during our sessions for ’The Third Script' in the spring of 2016. At one point during our lunchbreak we went for a walk down by the sea. We saw a flock of ravens sort of flying in circles around us, as they tend to come here a lot. So that´s where the title 'Ravening' comes from.”
"With the exception of the track '1000%' which is composed, it´s an improvised album with a few overdubs”, says Jo Berger Myhre, who has worked with Splashgirl, Nils Petter Molvaer and Susanna, among others on the Norwegian improv/jazz scene . "We spent a lot of time working on the sound of it, trying to achieve a detailed graininess, if that makes any sense.” Although the four pieces over two sides that go to make up the album are varied and far from monotonous, the music is typically so sparsely populated, and its sense of space and scale so immense, that it’s as if one is being deliberately invited to fill in the gaps to provide both detail and motive. There’s a rough, fingerprinted patina to the sounds themselves: the scrape of a stick across the concentric metal-rings of a cymbal, or the hairs of a bow across the coiled-wire strings of the bass, which once sampled can make a drone that might go on forever.
The sheer sound of the album is a work of art in itself, too. Mastered by Deathprod (Helge Sten), at Audio Virus lab in Oslo, with everything written, performed, recorded and produced by the two principals, with Ólafsson also responsible for the album’s final mix, it’s a record that demands to be heard, preferably on vinyl in the old style: Side A followed by Side B.