Christian Wallumrød’s recording career began nearly twenty years ago, in 1996, when the Christian Wallumrød Trio released their debut album Birch. Released to widespread critical acclaim, Birch launched the career of Christian Wallumrød. Since then, Christian Wallumrød star has been in the ascendancy.
To the onlooker, it seems Christian Wallumrød has done everything in music. He’s worked with the great and good of Norwegian music on a variety of groundbreaking projects, and formed the Christian Wallumrød Trio, who have released five albums. Their last album, Outstairs, released in 2013, won a Spellemannspris, a Norwegian Grammy. However, there’s one thing Christian Wallumrød has still to do, release a solo album.
That will be rectified on 9th February 2015, when Christian Wallumrød releases his debut solo album Pianokammer on Hubro Music. As we’ve come to expect from Christian Wallumrød, Pianokammer features groundbreaking, innovative music. That’s what Christian Wallumrød has been creating since his 1996 debut album Birch.
Following the release of Birch, Christian Wallumrød became one of the rising stars of Norwegian music. Suddenly, he was hot property. His services as a collaborator were in demand.
Christian’s first collaboration was with Elin Rosseland and Johannes Eick on the 1997 album Fra Himmelen. This was just the first of many successful projects Christian has worked with.
After Fra Himmelen, Christian has worked with Norwegian music royalty. Christian was worked with everyone from Arve Henriksen, Jan Bang, Erik Honoré, Sidsel Endresen, Helge Sten and Ingar Zach. However, these collaborations have to fit around Christian’s work with the Christian Wallumrød Trio.
Seven years after the Christian Wallumrød Trio launched Christian’s career, he was back with a new band. His new band was the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble, who since 2003, have released a quintet of critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums.
The Christian Wallumrød Ensemble’s debut album was Sofienberg Variations, released in 2003. Just like the Christian Wallumrød Trio’s debut album, Birch, Sofienberg Variations was released to critical acclaim. Over the next ten years, four further albums followed.
Two years after the release of Sofienberg Variations was released, came A Year From Easter followed in 2005. It further reinforced Christian’s reputation as one of the Norwegian music’s most talented and innovative musicians. So did the Christian Wallumrød Trio’s third album, The Zoo Is Far. Released in 2007, The Zoo Is Far was another album of groundbreaking, genre melting music.
With every release, it seemed, the Christian Wallumrød Trio’s constantly evolving lineup were able to seamlessly combine everything from baroque, folk, gospel, jazz and contemporary music. The result was music that won over critics, cultural commentators and music lovers. That was the case on Fabula Suite Lugano, which was released in 2009. It was released to widespread critical acclaim. Fabula Suite Lugano was hailed as the Christian Wallumrød Trio’s finest albums, and nominated for the 2010 Nordic Council Music Prize. Christian Wallumrød’s star was still in the ascendancy. However, four years later, the Christian Wallumrød Trio released Outstairs, their musical Magnus Opus.
After a four year gap, where Christian bad been busy collaborating with other artists, the Christian Wallumrød Trio returned with their fifth album, Outstairs. Here, was the album the Christian Wallumrød Trio had been working towards. Everything that had gone before, had been leading towards Outstairs. In a sense, Outstairs was ten years in the making. So, it’s no surprise that on its release, critics hailed Outstairs the Christian Wallumrød Trio’s finest hour. Following this critical acclaim, Outstairs won Spellemannspris, a Norwegian Grammy. Christian Wallumrød was now, one of the biggest names in Norwegian music. However, there was one thing he still hadn’t done, release a solo album.
Following the success of Outstairs, now was the time for Christian Wallumrød to release his debut album, Pianokammer, which will be released on Hubro Music on 9th February 2015. Pianokammer, as befits a musical innovator like Christian Wallumrød, is an album full of twists and turns, and subtleties and surprises. That’s why, Pianokammer is without doubt, such a captivating album from Christian Wallumrød.
For Pianokammer, Christian Wallumrød wrote six tracks, which he played himself on three different grand pianos. This included Christian’s personal grand piano. The six tracks were recorded between December 2013 and April 2014. During the recording sessions, Christian experimented with different recording techniques, overdubs, natural resonance and editing. The result is music that veers between dynamic to intriguing, inspiring musical journeys to irresistible, insouciant, melodic tracks. Other times, the music intimate to innovative. Always, Pianokammer is captivating and compelling. You’ll realise that, as I take you on the musical journey that’s Christian Wallumrød’s debut album Pianokammer.
Fahrkunst opens Christian Wallumrød’s debut album, Pianokammer. Straight away, a crackly, analogue sound can be heard. It’s soon overshadowed by a dark, dramatic, ominous waves of sound. They’re akin to tremors of sound. In the distance, as what sounds like rain falls. It’s not, but given the moody, cinematic sound that’s unfolding, you can’t help but paint pictures. Scenes and scenarios unfold as you listen intently. You wonder, is that the sound of birds squawking in the distance? Christian Wallumrød’s avant-garde soundscape is proving captivating. He sculpts the soundscape, taking the edge of it. It’s still moody and broody, but becomes almost futuristic, in what could easily be a post apocalyptic soundscape.
Hoksang is the polar opposite of the previous track. It’s as if a new day has done, and to quote the Chairman of The Board, “spring has sprung.” There’s a sense of hope, as a beautiful, insouciant, melodic track begins to share its secrets and subtleties. Deftly, and sometimes boldly, Christian’s fingers flit across the keyboard, as the arrangement meanders along. Almost seamlessly, the music veers between thoughtful to hopeful, to needy and soul-searching. Sometimes, there’s an element of drama and frustration, in Christian’s playing. By then, he’s playing boldly, almost pounding the piano. It’s as if this is a form of Primal Scream Therapy. This adds an element of drama and emotion. Never though, does this overshadow the track’s ethereal beauty.
An urgent stab of the piano is accompanied by what can only be described as a dark, ominous wash of sound. From the opening bars, it’s obvious Second Fahrkunst is a close relation of Fahrkunst. They’re also both ambitious, innovative soundscapes, where Christian dawns the role of musical sculptor. He uses tape echo, to ensure the soundscape quivers and trembles. Then Christian subtly strums at the strings of the piano. Later, he scrabbles the piano strings, adding another layer to this intriguing, imaginative soundscape.
From the get-go, it’s obvious that Boyd 1970 is dramatic and melodic. It’s a track with its roots in both gospel and jazz. That’s fitting, given Christian’s musical roots are in the church. Unaccompanied, he plays what’s the most orthodox track on Pianokammer so far. Boyd 1970 is an irresistible, joyous, spiritual, that’s sure to gladden and touch the heart of everyone who hears it.
The introduction to School of Ecofisk resonates, taking on a dubby, spacious sounds. Notes hang in the air, leaving a pleasant, pleasing memory. Then all of a sudden, darkness descends. School of Ecofisk heads in a different direction, as Christian toys with the listener. He takes the track in the direction of avant-garde, experimental and free jazz, on what’s without doubt, the most ambitious, innovative track on Pianokammer.
Closing Pianokammer, Christian Wallumrød’s long awaited debut album is Lassome, a near nine-minute epic in two parts. It has a dark, mesmeric and jaunty introduction. Christian finds a groove, and explores it. Having found an in, he heads on a magical musical mystery tour. Elements of blues and jazz shine through, before his fingers fly up and down the keyboard. By then the music veers between dark and dramatic to dreamy, intriguing, irresistible and even hypnotic. Gradually, you’re mesmerised by Lassome’s beauty and hook laden sound. Then after just over five minutes, Christian Wallumrød throws a curveball. A wall of sci-fi sound descends, replacing Lassome’s beauty. It’s as if Christian is being transported to some distant galaxy. As this happens, he tames this wash of sound. Producing a Hendrix-esque performance, Christian tames the tiger, making it part of this epic track, which closes Pianokammer.
That’s the story of Christian Wallumrød’s eagerly awaited debut album, Pianokammer. As Sam Cooke once sang, “it’s been a long time coming.” However, it’s been well worth the nineteen year wait.
Although it’s difficult to believe, it was nineteen years ago, in 1996, when the Christian Wallumrød Trio released their debut album, Birch. Since then, Christian Wallumrød has divided his time between his work with the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble, and collaborations with the great and good of Norwegian music. During this period, critical acclaim, commercial success and plaudits have come Christian Wallumrød’s way. So has the most prestigious award in Norwegian music.
Two years ago, in 2013, when the Christian Wallumrød Trio released their last album, Outstairs, released in 2013, won a Spellemannspris, Norwegian Grammy. This was richly deserved. For three decades, Christian Wallumrød has been one of the most innovative, inventive and influential artists in Norwegian music. However, there was still one thing Christian Wallumrød had to do, release a solo album.
Less than two years later, Christian Wallumrød returned with Pianokammer, his debut solo album. It was as if winning the Spellemannspris, inspired Christian to release his long awaited debut album, Pianokammer. It’s an album that epitomises everything that’s good about Christian Wallumrød’s music.
Pianokammer, which will be released on Hubro Music on 9th February 2015, is what we’ve come to expect from a musical innovator like Christian Wallumrød. It’s an album full of twists and turns, and subtleties and surprises. That’s the case from the opening bars of Fahrkunst, right through the closing notes of Lassome, which closes Pianokammer.
Quite simply, Pianokammer is a spellbinding album, of innovative, groundbreaking and genre defying music. Christian combines ambient, avant-garde, blues, experimental, free jazz and jazz. The result is a captivating collection of six songs, that are variously ambitious, bold, dark, dramatic, ethereal, haunting, hopeful, irresistible, joyous, ominous and uplifting. That’s why, Pianokammer is, without doubt, such an ambitious and captivating album from musical innovator and adventurer, Christian Wallumrød.