Terje Isungset Ice Concerts Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

The (arctic) circle, remains unbroken, then...

Chris Jones 2008

Terje Isungset, like many of his Nordic compatriots, straddles the divide between jazz, avant garde and even folk. A lot of this has to do with the inherent Scandinavian respect for nature and its power on the imagination. Isungset, a percussionist who has worked with just about every major name in Norwegian jazz, is a man who uses nature's materials to make his music. Anyone who has seen him perform knows that he can express himself more fully with a ram's horn, a bunch of twigs or a couple of pebbles, better than most musicians could with a whole fjord full of modern gadgetry. Ice Concerts, culled from his tour of Arctic spots in 2006, sees him extend the pallette of sounds that he first explored on his album Iceman Is. And yes, it's all made with nothing more sophisticated than frozen water and the human voice.

Again, when dealing with the Norwegian frame of mind, boundaries and genres become meaningless. Musicians are simply musicians, and as such regard themselves as part of a lineage that stretches from folk tradition to the drum and electronica of say, Nils Petter Molvaer. Isungset thus includes the Supersilent trumpeter and all-round genius Arve Henriksen on the ice trumpet and haunting vocals as he did on Iceman Is, but he also throws in several female voices including some fine 'joiking' courtesy of Sara Marielle Goup. Originally devised as a cattle calling technique, this yelping sound fits perfectly with the glacial, ringing tones of struck and blown ice. Also Isungset performs one of Grieg's folk adaptations, Fola, fola Blakken. The (arctic) circle, remains unbroken, then...

As if to highlight Terje's belief that he is a part of nature's music rather than being wholly responsible for its manipulation, each track comes complete with a temprature reading and a meteorological snapshot. By the final track, Ice Memories, the wilderness has almost taken over completely, with 'The Nature' credited with performning on snow. If you expect this stuff to be cold and unforgiving, you'd be wrong. It's a chiming, intimate and utterly beautiful world of sound that entrances as much as it avoids any notion of 'novelty'. Talk about chilled out...

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