...cranky and ratchety, but with a strong sense of purpose...
Martin Longley 2006-12-04
Hearing that Per Henrik Svalastog makes music using a Norwegian zither and two animal horns, the expectation would be for a recorded period of still contemplation, of poring over the minutiae of stroked strings and controlled breath emissions.
Well, this is the way that Woodwork begins,
but very soon, Svalastog is introducing a range of bowel-end basslines and weightily cyclic rhythms. These patterns are cranky and ratchety, but with a strong sense of purpose. They're never too regimented, always leaving room for the odd abstracted stretch.
Residing in Oslo, Svalastog has already made three albums with the Information trio, the most recent Biomekano also available on the Rune Grammofon label. He found an old harpelik (zither) in grandfather Svalastog's barn, up in the mountains of his Tromso birthplace. Undergoing a partial rejection of previous electronic means, Per Henrik was inspired to gather up his construction materials from the ancient acoustic realm, subjecting all subsequent sounds to laptop processing. The bukkehorn and kuhorn (from a ram and a cow respectively) are also used, although their sounds are less discernible than the glittery string-curtains of the zither.
Wondrous textures are at play, with microphones placed so closely to the instruments that interior resonances become massive in scale, folded and malformed by software
acrobatics. It's a perfect electroacoustic balance. Svalastog can make the zither sound like a guitar, an organ, or even a synthesiser. Sometimes it sounds just like itself...