Pedal steel maestro hooks up with enigmatic Norwegian trio.
Spencer Grady 2012
The lyrical vacuum of instrumental music often sends listeners trawling not only their own consciousness for corresponding imagery, but also other media.
So it is with this collaboration between progressive pedal steel master BJ Cole (he’s worked with everyone from Sting to Björk to Susan Alcorn) and Nordic trio 1982, comprised of fiddler Nils Økland, organist/harmonium player Sigbjørn Apeland and percussionist Øyvind Skarbø.
Like Dirty Three offshoot The Tren Brothers and impromptu super collective Boxhead Ensemble, 1982 conjure distinctly nautical vistas (why do our undirected minds gravitate towards the sea?), with these taut improvisations resurrecting the fog-strewn fishing trips prevalent in the literature of Tove Jansson’s enchanting familial tales, as well as the shadowy quayside reveries of Jean-Philippe Toussaint. The watery enchantment and dreamlike isolation of Peter Doig’s oil painting, Jetty, is another visual analogue.
By admitting a guest into the fold for this, their third album, 1982’s intention was evidently to upset their own applecart, seeking fresh contributions as a catalyst for further group development. But, far from being the disrupting influence, Cole beds in seamlessly.
His shimmering tones are largely enveloped by the sublime swells of Apeland’s stretched notes, the pair combining to create beautiful near-static ecclesiastical forms. This allows both Økland’s folk-influenced Hardanger melodies and Skarbø’s restrained percussion to provide these tracks with their subtle dynamic shifts.
If 1982 are serious about cracking a few eggs, perhaps they should simply opt for another recording locale. As with their previous sets, this one was recorded by Davide Bertolini at Bergen’s Grieghallen Studios (a set-up also recently employed by black metal bad boy Burzum). The proximity of this peninsula space to the bays, its wharfs and fish markets, has an evident impact on the creative process, baptising these magnificent pieces with a kiss of salty spray.
On second thought, just stay where you are boys, who needs an omelette anyway?