Øyvind Torvund isn’t like other composers and musicians. Instead, he’s a musical pioneer. That’s been the case since Øyvind Torvund graduated from the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Berlin University of the Arts. Since then, the thirty-nine year old Norwegian has been pushing musical boundaries to their limits.

The music that Øyvind Torvund has composed and produced is truly groundbreaking. It’s best described as a fusion of disparate and eclectic musical influences and instruments. Everything from acoustic chamber music and baroque, are combined with folk, punk and rock. This is then combined with lo-fi electronics and field recordings. Often, Øyvind Torvund plays a selection of the bespoke string instruments he’s made himself. This adds to music that’s unique, innovative and influential. That’s why Øyvind Torvund is held in such high regard.

He’s come a long way from the student that played guitar in various rock and improvisational groups. This was very different to his days spent studying composition. However, this was good experience for life after University.

Since graduating, Øyvind Torvund has become one of the rising stars of Norwegian music. Especially, over the last few years. During that period, Øyvind Torvund’s reputation as grown. His star has certainly been in the ascendancy. 

He’s been composer in residence for the Oslo Sinfonietta, and has been commissioned by some of the most prestigious ensembles.This includes the Ensemble Ascolta, Ensemble Zwischentone, Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, Plus Minus Ensemble and Yarn/Whire. Øyvind Torvund has also toured the world, playing at some of the most prestigious festivals worldwide. This music has won over music fans, critics, cultural commentators and the organisers of one of the most prestigious music awards.

This came in 2012, when Øyvind Torvund was awarded the Arne Nordheim Prize. The same year, another groundbreaking group, Asamisimasa won another prestigious musical award.

Asamisimasa released their album Pretty Sound in 2012. It featured the music of Danish composer Simon Steen-Andersen. Having ben released top widespread critical acclaim, Pretty Sound was nominated for, and won, a Spellemannprisen, the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy Award. After the release of such an ambitious project, featuring music that was innovative and inventive, Asamisimasa set about recording the followup to Pretty Sound. That’s where Øyvind Torvund comes in.

Øyvind Torvund was a composer that Asamisimasa had long admired and been inspired by. So, Asamisimasa decided to record an album of Øyvind Torvund’s compositions. The result is Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund will be released by Aurora  on 11th September 2015. However, this is no ordinary album.

Far from it. Just like Øyvind Torvund’s music, Asamisimasa’s music is a fusion of disparate and eclectic instruments, sounds and effects. It’s best described as a meeting of the traditional and leftfield. Kristine Tjøgersen plays clarinet, harmonica and whistles and Anders Forisdal plays acoustic and electric guitar. They’re joined by cellist Ellen Ugelvik and pianist and keyboardist Tanja Orning. They represent the traditional side of Asamisimasa. Håkon Stene takes a very different approach. He deploys everything from percussion and a sampler, to an electric drill, cardboard box, amplified water bottle, milk steamer and toy laser gun. The five members of Asamisimasa recorded a quartet of tracks, which featured three guest musicians.

Trombonist Torild G. Berg and violinist Karin Hellqvist play on Wolf Studies. Fittingly, the other guest artist is Øyvind Torvund. He features on three tracks, adding noise generator, feedback and cassette recorders. These three guest musicians join Asamisimasa on Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund. It was recorded at the famous Rainbow Studio, and produced by Jan Martin Smørdal. He played his part in what’s a captivating and groundbreaking album, Håkon Stene.

Opening Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund is Wilibald Motor Landscape, a fifteen minute epic with five movements. Essentially, the track is a collection of five smaller, disparate movements. They represent collecting, something that’s been fundamental part of life since the birth of mankind. Back then, collecting was an essential part of survival. The huger gatherer collected food and fuel. Nowadays, collecting is very different, and cultural. Here, musical hunter-gatherers Asamisimasa collect, then combine an eclectic selection of instruments, implements, sounds and effects on  Wilibald Motor Landscape.

Over Wilibald Motor Landscape’s five pieces, Asamisimasa are at their most innovative, inventive and imaginative. Who else could combine such a disparate selection of sounds and instruments. That’s the case from the opening bars of Some Overtures, right through Pinball Ornaments, Car Stereo Romances, Intermission With Noises up until the closing notes of Talking About The Future. 

Throughout the five movements, sounds flit in and out. Some stay longer. Others however, make a brief but welcome appearance.  Some leave you wondering what you’ve just heard? Many are easy to identify. Especially, the frantic fiddles, searing guitars and a whip cracking. Feedback is deployed. So are sci-fi and growling, snarling sounds. Later, Asamisimasa leave space in the arrangement, and a clarinet, percussion and harpsichord combine. Then in Car Stereo Romances, Asamisimasa replicate the sound of traffic passing furiously. It’s a dramatic, almost disturbing soundscape, and features motors whirring and car alarms sounding. Intermission With Noises and Talking About The Future feature Asamisimasa as their most ambitious on these genre-melting tracks. Elements of avant garde, experimental, free jazz, industrial and neo classical are combined, and are parts of what’s a truly ambitious, captivating and cinematic sounding track.

The Neon Forest is a seven piece movement. It starts with 21 Trio, which is followed by Beamed By Tradition, (and Further), On My Way, On Your Way, Multiple Slatt, Space Corner and Forest Space/Neon Forest. These seven movements are part of an eleven minute track, where Asamisimasa replicate and play along with the sounds of nature.

It features Asamisimasa at their rawest. This is deliberate, and is meant to imitate nature. However, it’s also melodic in what Asamisimasa describe as an “archaic” way.  Other times, the music veers between beautiful, soothing and rich, to almost dark, discordant and disturbing. This has to be the case, as nature in the raw isn’t all about beauty. Sometimes, it’s dark and disturbing. Much of the time Asamisimasa are at their most melodic. However, later, there’s a sense of urgency, as the arrangement marches along during Space Corner. This represents a stylistic change. Then during  Forest Space/Neon Forest the music becomes understated and minimalist. There’s an spacious, ambient quality as Asamisimasa continue to collect and combine musical genres. Drone music is combined with elements of ambient, avant-garde, classical, experimental and jazz to create a quite beautiful, melodic track.

Unlike the two previous tracks, Wolf Studies isn’t split into separate movements. Instead, it lasts fourteen cinematic minutes. The listener has to shut their eyes, and allow their imagination to run riot. One has to picture the scene, a group of people sitting round a campfire. They whistle, whilst someone plays a guitar. Then someone decides to imitate the sound of a wolf. They howl, while on Wolf Studies Asamisimasa collectively replicate the sound of wolves. Strings, clarinets and an acoustic guitar play leading roles. They’re augmented by field recordings of wolves made by Lars Erik Olsson in the Swedish forests. It’s a spine-tingling and enthralling track that’s captivating, sometimes disturbing and groundbreaking. For fourteen minutes, man and nature become one.

Plastic Waves closes Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund, and is a piece for piano and ensemble. It’s the longest track on the album, and lasts nearly eighteen minutes. Here, Asamisimasa use Øyvind Torvund’s music to make an important point. How can an imitation of something compare favourably to the real thing?  A Neon Forest Asamisimasa believe, will never compare to the glorious splendour of a real forest. Nor can Plastic Waves. Here, Asamisimasa unleash waves of music. It grows and builds, instruments and effects being dropped in at just the right moment. Playing a starring role, is Ellen’s piano.  She’s aided and abetted by urgent rolls of drums, scratchy strings and Anders’ Hendrix inspired guitar. Asamisimasa it seems, are determined to close their sophomore album on a high. That’s what they do, seamlessly combining avant garde, experimental, free jazz and rock.

Three years have passed since Asamisimasa released their award winning debut album Pretty Sound. Since then, nothing has been heard from Asamisimasa. However, on 11th September 2015, the wait will be over. Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund will be released on the Aurora label. At last, one of Norwegian music’s most ambitious and groundbreaking groups are back.

Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund features four lengthy soundscapes. Two of them, feature several movements. Wilibald Motor Landscape is a five piece movement, while   Neon Forest Space features seven movements. Both tracks tell stories, and have a cinematic quality. Just like the two lengthy tracks, Wolf Studies and Plastic Waves, these tracks see Asamisimasa a disparate and eclectic selection of musical genres and influences.

During the four tracks on Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund, elements of ambient, avant-garde, classical, electronica, experimental, free jazz, industrial post rock, psychedelia and rock melt into one. Somehow, though, this fusion of all these disparate musical genres hangs together, and make perfect sense. It tells a story, and Asamisimasa are the narrators. All the listener needs to supply is their imagination. However, one things you should never do is try and second guess Asamisimasa. That’s impossible. 

Asamisimasa are musical mavericks. Their ability to manipulate sound sees the sonic explorers take their listeners on a magical musical mystery tour. They take you places that other groups can only dream of. In doing so, Asamisimasa create music that’s variously ambitious, challenging, cinematic, dramatic,  inventive, innovative minimalist and urgent. It’s also music that’s guaranteed to make you think. 

Sometimes, the music on  Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund sets your mind racing. Don’t fight it, enjoy the ride. Just let Asamisimasa take you to places you’ve never been before. It’s just a case of letting your imagination run riot. If you do, you’ll will richly rewarded by musical alchemists hunter-gatherers  Asamisimasa, on their new album  Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: