MORTEN QVENILD-PERSONAL PIANO.

MORTEN QVENILD-PERSONAL PIANO.

Over the last twenty years, Morten Qvenild has been at the heart of the Norwegian music scene. The thirty-seven year old pianist and keyboardist is one of the most versatile and creative musicians of his generation. That’s why, when anyone in the Norwegian music scene was looking for a pianist or keyboardist, they gave Morten Qvenild a call. This has resulted in Morten Qvenild playing on over fifty albums.

He’s has played on albums by the National Bank, Solveig Slettahjell Slomo Quintet, Susanne Sundfør, Arve Henriksen, Thomas Dybdahl, Marit Larsen, Nils Petter Molvær, Shining, Jaga Jazzist, Frida Ånnevik and Trinity. That’s not all. He’s part piano trio In the Country, half of the duo sPaceMonkey with drummer Gard Nilssen and Susanna Wallumrød’s partner in Susanna & the Magical Orchestra. However, there was one thing that Morten Qvenild still hadn’t done, until very recently. That was release a debut album.

Morten Qvenild has rectified this recently. On 4th  September 2015, Morten Qvenild released his debut album Personal Piano on Hubro Music. As befitting one of the most creative musicians of his generations, Personal Piano is a groundbreaking album. It’s been several years in the making. However, Morten Qvenild’s career began twenty years ago.

Back in 1995, Morten Qvenild was only eighteen. He was born in Kongsberg on the 31st August 1978. Growing up, he learnt to play the piano. By the time Morten joined the Ung Musikk big band in 1995, he was a talented pianist and keyboard. So much so, that he was accepted into the prestigious Norwegian Academy of Music. This was where he spent the next few years, furthering his musical eduction.

Three years later, in 1998, Morten made his recording debut with Østenfor Sol. Their debut album Syng, Dovre was a genre melting album. Elements of folk jazz, pop and rock were combined on Syng, Dovre. The album was well received by critics, who forecast a great future was forecast for Østenfor Sol.

Østenfor seemed in no hurry to release their sophomore album.  However, Morten was busy. He was working on a variety of projects, and a made a guest appearance on a couple of projects. The first came in 2000, when Morten made a guest appearance on Ra’s live@blaa. Then in 2001, he featured on the OJ Trio’s Breaks Even album. That year, Østenfor also released their long awaited sophomore album.

After three years away, Østenfor released their sophomore album Troillspel in 2001. Just like Syng, Dovre, Troillspel was well received by critics. Despite the positive reviews, Troillspel was the last album from Østenfor. However, Morten had plenty of projects lined up.

Jaga Jazzist.

In 2001, Morten was part of three projects who released their debut album. The first was Jaga Jazzist, a nine-piece instrumental band that started out in Tønsberg. Since then, its lineup has been fluid. Morten was a member of for three years. 

He made his Jaga Jazzist debut on their third album, A Livingroom Hush. It was released in 2001. The following year, Jaga Jazzist released The Stix. That was the last Jaga Jazzist album Morten played on. The only other recording he played on was their Day E.P., which was released in 2002. For Morten that was the end of his time with Jaga Jazzist. However, he was busy with a variety of other projects, including Shining.

Shining.

Just like Jaga Jazzist, Shining released their debut album in 2001. This was Where The Ragged People Go. Again, Morten was only a member of the band for a few years.

Two years later, in 2003, Shining released their sophomore album Sweet Shanghai Devil. However, when Shining returned with their third album in 2005, In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster proved to be Morten’s swan-song. He was busy with other projects, old and new. This included Slow Motion Orchestra.

Slow Motion Orchestra.

The third project Morten was involved in, who released their debut album in 2001, were the Slow Motion Orchestra. They released five albums between 2001 and 2009. Their debut album was Slow Motion Orchestra. However, it was another three years before the Slow Motion Orchestra released another album.

In 2004, Morten would be involved with four different projects who released albums. Slow Motion Orchestra released their critically acclaimed sophomore album Silver. Morten also featured on Jan Martin Smørdal’s Acoustic Accident. However, Slow Motion Orchestra was projects Morten and many critics had high hopes for.

And so it came to pass. After the critical response to Silver in 2004, Slow Motion Orchestra released Pixiedust in 2005 and Good Rain in 2006. By then, Slow Motion Orchestra’s star was in the ascendancy. However, it would another three years before they released another album.

By the time Slow Motion Orchestra released Tarpan Seasons in 2009, Morten Qvenild had been working on various projects. He was one of the hardest working men in Norwegian music. Apart from the various groups he was a member of, Morten had made guest appearance on various albums. 

This included Nils Petter Molvær’s 2005 album Remakes. The following year, 2006, Morten played on Christer Knutsen’s Grand Hotel and Thomas Dybdahl’s Science. Then in 2007, Morten played on Susanna Wallumrød’s album Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos. This was no surprise, as Morten was a member of Susanna and The Magical Orchestra.

Susanna and The Magical Orchestra.

This had been the case since 2000, when Susanna Wallumrød and Morten Qvenild formed Susanna and The Magical Orchestra. 

Four years later, they released their debut album List of Lights and Buoys in 2004. This however, wasn’t the only album Morten released in 2004. Two other projects he was involved in released projects, Trinity and The National Bank. Neither however, has enjoyed the longevity of Susanna and The Magical Orchestra.

Two years after the release of List of Lights and Buoys, Susanna and The Magical Orchestra returned with their sophomore album Melody Mountain. The aptly titled Melody Mountain was released in 2006, and won over the hearts and minds of critics. However, after the critically acclaimed Melody Mountain, it would be another three years before Susanna and The Magical Orchestra released their third album.

Fittingly, it was entitled 3. It featured the Norwegian pop, electronica and jazz duo at their best. Critics hailed 3 a career defining album. Since the release of 3 in 2009, Susanna and The Magical Orchestra haven’t released another album. However, in 2009, another of the projects Morten was involved in released its swan-song.

Trinity.

Trinity recording career began in 2004, the same year as Susanna and The Magical Orchestra and The National Bank’s. Trinity released their debut album Sparkling in 2004. Sparking was well received by critics, who were impressed by Trinity’s brand of innovative free jazz. Despite the reviews, Trinity never got round to releasing another album until 2009.


That was Breaking The Mold, which was released in 2009. Breaking the Mold was another album of ambitious free jazz. Just like Sparkling, reviews of Breaking The Mold recognised what Trinity were trying to do. They were trying to push musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, even further. That’s what people were coming to expect of Morten, was an experienced and award winning musician.

The National Bank.

Back in 2004, when Susanna and The Magical Orchestra and Trinity released their debut albums, so did another project Morten was involved with, The National Bank. They released their debut eponymous album in 2004. The National Bank was released to critical acclaim, and hailed as one of the albums of 2004.

So much so, that The National Bank won a Spellemannprisen, the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy Award in 2004. Having won a Spellemannprisen for their debut album, The National Bank didn’t rush into the studio to record their sophomore album. By then, Morten had won another award.

In 2007, Morten was nominated for a Kongsberg Jazz Award. It was the twelfth time that the award had taken place at the Kongsberg Jazzfestival, which was founded in 1964. Since then, it’s one of the most prestigious European jazz festivals, attracting musicians from worldwide. The festival has also been a springboard for many up-and-coming Norwegian artists. They’ve gone on to bigger and better things after appearing at the Kongsberg Jazzfestival. However, by 2007, Morten Qvenild was an experienced artist.

So it was fitting that he was nominated for, and won a Kongsberg at the 2007 Kongsberg Jazzfestival. Along with the Spellemannprisen Morten won with The National Bank in 2004, they were two of three awards Morten had won. The other came with In The Country.

In The Country.

It was in 2003, in Oslo,  that Morten Qvenild, Pål Hausken and Roger Arntzen formed the piano trio In The Country. Success came quickly for the trio. They won the JazzIntro Award at the Molde International Jazz Festival. A year later, In The Country were releasing their debut album.

After just two years together, In The Country released their debut album This Was the Pace of My Heartbeat in 2003. Expectancy and critical acclaim accompanied the release of This Was the Pace of My Heartbeat. After all, a year earlier, In The Country had won the  JazzIntro Award. However, still, In The Country had to overcome the hurdle many bands fall at, the  difficult second album. This could make or break a band.

While some groups struggle for years recording their second album,  In The Country had no such problems. They released their sophomore album Losing Stones, Collecting Bones was released in 2006. It picked up where This Was the Pace of My Heartbeat left off. In The Country were one of Norwegian music’s rising stars.

After two albums in two years, it was another three years before In The Country released their sophomore album, Whiteout. It was released in 2009. During the three preceding years, Morten had juggled the disparate projects he was involved with. Somehow, he still found time to record Whiteout, which found favour among critics and cultural commentators. However, another four years passed before In The Country released their next studio album.

While In The Country didn’t release another album until 2013, they released the live album Sounds and Sights in 2011. Then two years later, after a four year wait, In The Country released Sunset Sunrise. The Oslo based piano trio were back, and back to their best. However, in the four preceding years, Morten had been busy.

Susanne Sundfør.

That was the case throughout his career. Constantly, Morten had been busy with the various bands he was a member. Then when he had the time, he played on other people’s albums. This included playing on two tracks on Susanne Sundfør’s 2007 album Your Favourite Music. This lead to Morten producing Susanne Sundfør’s 2010 album The Brothel. This was Morten’s production debut. Another avenue had opened up for Morten.

After producing The Brothel in 2010, Morten became part of Susanne Sundfør’s band that featured on her live album A Night at Salle Pleyel. This was just part of the story of 2011.

During 2011, Morten co-produced Solveig Slettahjell’s Antologie album. He made a guest appearance on Mathias Eick album Skala. That wasn’t all. Morten collaborated with Magic Pocket on their 2011 album The Katabatic Wind. Just like previous years, Morten Qvenild was one of the hardest working men in Norwegian music.

This didn’t change in 2012. Morten continued to play on, and produce other people’s music. He produced Bertine Zetlitz’s 2012 album Electric Feet. Then in 2013, Morten produced Budding Rose’s debut album Where Were Ye All? The following year, 2014, Morten split his time between producing Martin Hagfors’ third album Producers Politics Passion and the various projects he was involved with.

One of the projects Morten was working on during 2014, was the sPace monKey album The Karman Line. It was a collaboration with Gard Nilssen, that was released to widespread critical on Hubro Music. The following year, Hubro Music would release a album by another project Morten  featured on, Finland.

Earlier in 2015, Hubro Music released Rainy Omen, Finland’s eagerly awaited debut album. Finland feature Ivar Grydeland, Jo Berger Myhrem Pål Hausken and Morten Qvenild. Just like sPace monKey, critical acclaimed Finland’s debut album. Rainy Omen was hailed a groundbreaking album, one that featured four of Norwegian music’s most talented sons. This includes  Morten Qvenild, who on 4th September 2015, released his debut album Personal Piano on Hubro Music.

Over the last couple of years, Morten Qvenild has been working on what he calls “the HyPer(sonal) Piano”. This came about after he found the piano restrictive. So he set about integrating disparate types of electronics into his grand piano. This would expand the “instrument’s sonic palette.” Especially, on Personal Piano, an album where Morten Qvenild dawns the role of sonic explorer, as he innovates and improvises. It’s a project that’s very much his own.

For Personal Piano, Morten Qvenild penned six of the seven tracks. The exception is We Found Love from EDM ‘producer’ Calvin Harris. Morten Qvenild also arranged and produces Personal Piano, which was recorded at The Green Room. 

At the Green Room, Morten plays his the HyPer(sonal) Piano, adds vocals and takes charge of programming. It’s very much his album. The only other artist that features is Christopher Blom. He features on just one track, Past. Once the album was recorded at the Green Room, it was mixed and mastered by Jørgen Træen. Only then was Personal Piano ready for release.

Personal Piano, has as a man once said, been a long time coming. Twenty years to be exact. Since then, Morten Qvenild has established a reputation as one of the most creative, ambitious and inventive musicians in Norwegian music. That becomes apparent on Personal Piano, an album where musically, things aren’t what they seem. That’s down to musical sorcerer and sonic adventurer, Morten Qvenild.

On Pesonal Piano Morten processes the sounds, resulting in the original sound being transformed into something totally different. This results in music that variously captivating,ethereal, intriguing, intense and melodic. It’s also innovative. That’s the case throughout the seven soundscapes on Personal Piano. Mostly, they’re instrumental. However, sometimes, Morten delivers a haunting vocal, including on Turning Returning, the opening track.

Opening Personal Piano is Turning Returning, a a minimalist, experimental sounding soundscape. As a piano plays,a myriad of disparate, almost industrial sounds whirr, beep, cheap, squeak and grind. Sounds flit in and out. Sometimes, it sounds as they’re tapping out some long lost code. Then Morten’s ethereal, but fragile, haunting vocal enters. As he delivers a tender, thoughtful vocal, he slowly and deliberately plays his piano. Both the piano and vocal are enveloped by futuristic, otherworldly sounds. Then when Morten’s vocal drops out, his piano takes centre-stage. However, dramatic wash of broody, moody music enters. Having made its presence felt, it dissipates, before being replaced by Morten’s melancholy vocal. Later, sounds bubble, beep, squeak and even growl, as musical alchemist begins this innovative and captivating musical journey.

Just a lone drum plays, before the piano enters on Kick and Glide. As it plays solemnly, it’s multi-tracked. Suddenly, two pianos and keyboard are combing. They’re joined by effects, percussion and what sounds like a guitar about to unleash waves of feedback. By then, there’s a hypnotic quality to the arrangement. As it crackles, it becomes dark and dramatic, before threatening to erupt like a musical volcano. When that happens, it’s as if Morten has been inspired by eighties electronica and the soundtrack to French thrillers from the sixties. Electronica isn’t the only influence. Avant-garde, experimental, free jazz and rock are thrown into the mix by Morten as the arrangement drives along and drama builds and builds to a blistering crescendo.

Experimental describes the introduction to Past. A variety of disparate sounds combine. Some tap out a code, while others provide a proto industrial backdrop for Morten and his piano. As he slowly and thoughtfully plays his piano, he delivers a hopeful vocal. When the vocal drops out, sound bristle, crack and shriek. Panning is used effectively, as everyday objects are deployed as part of an alternative, sci-fi inspired symphony. A drum thunders, Morse Code and feedback combine. Meanwhile, Morten sings and plays his piano. A vocoder is used on his vocal, which is now full regret and despair, as he ponders the Past.

Hilma is another of Personal Piano’s epics. It’s just over eight minutes long. Morten readies himself as he slowly, and delicately plays his piano. Soon, he’s playing quicker and more deliberately. Subtle effects have been used on the signal. They’re not overused. Sound effects bristle and crackly, before a futuristic vocal enters. By then, the arrangement sounds as if it’s about to reach a crescendo. As it does, sound shriek, chatter and scream. However, this proves the perfect accompaniment to the piano and vocoded vocal. Together, with Morten’s dreamy vocal, they play their part in a cinematic epic.

We Found Love sees Morten unleash a disparate and electric selection of sound effects and drones. They have a melodic quality. This increases when a piano, vocoded vocal and electronic drums are added. Together, they transform ‘producer’ Calvin Harris’ EDM track. In Morten’s hands, it takes on new life and meaning. It veers between dreamy, ethereal, futuristic, lysergic, melodic and gloriously otherworldly. To do this, Morten deploys his trusty HyPer(sonal) Piano.

As Morten’s slowly, and dramatically plays his piano on Blown Away, a code is tapped away in the background. It fills in the spaces left by the piano and percussion. Morten stabs deliberately at the piano. Just like other parts of the arrangement, it rings ominously out. Meanwhile, a march is beaten out on a drum. It’s as if someone is plotting their escape. By then, the signal from Morten’s piano is being twisted. Despite that, it still produces a comforting melodic sound. That’s despite the drums marching ominously towards you. They’re joined by Morten’s quivering, shimmering, scatted vocal. Moten uses his voice like an instrument, and its another layer to the swells of of beautiful, glistening music.

Wild Horses closes Personal Piano. Morten’s HyPer(sonal) Piano plays uncertainly, quivering and reverberating. That’s because the original signal has been processed heavily. So has Morten’s vocal. It arrives from deep down in the arrangement. Morten sings slowly and deliberately, as if wanting to get his message across. As Morten delivers a heartfelt vocal, he plays his piano.He picks each note with the utmost care. Meanwhile, strings briefly interject, as this haunting arrangement meanders alongs, closing Personal Piano on a beautiful high.

It’s taken Morten Qvenild twenty years to get round to recording his debut album, Personal Piano. No wonder. For the last twenty years, Morten Qvenild has been at the heart of the Norwegian music scene. The thirty-seven year old pianist and keyboardist is one of the most versatile, creative and innovative musicians of his generation. That becomes apparent after the first track on Personal Piano, which was released by Hubro Music  recently.

Personal Piano reflects Morten Qvenild’s interests. The music has been inspired by Radiohead, James Blake, Frode Grytten, Olivier Messiaen, Hans Børli and Murakami. That’s not all. An interest in travelling, melodies, the landscape and skiing. His childhood, plastic, kayaking and his restlessness. So do dark chords and shimmering light. It seems even everything and the everyday items have inspired Morten Qvenild. So has twenty years making music.

During his career, Morten Qvenild has played on albums by the National Bank, Solveig Slettahjell Slomo Quintet, Susanne Sundfør, Arve Henriksen, Thomas Dybdahl, Marit Larsen, Nils Petter Molvær, Shining, Jaga Jazzist, Frida Ånnevik and Trinity. That’s not all. He’s part piano trio In the Country, half of the duo sPaceMonkey with drummer Gard Nilssen and Susanna Wallumrød’s partner in Susanna & the Magical Orchestra. However, there was one thing that Morten Qvenild still hadn’t done, until very recently. That was release a debut album. Now he’s rectified this.

After many years being a member of various groups, Morten Qvenild decided to release a solo album. It wasn’t as simple as it seemed. Morten Qvenild felt frustrated by the restrictions placed on him by the grand piano. So Morten Qvenild began working on what he calls “the HyPer(sonal) Piano”. It’s where Morten  integrates disparate types of electronics into his grand piano. This expands and extends the “instrument’s sonic palette.”

That becomes apparent as Personal Piano unfolds. With the help of his  HyPer(sonal) Piano, Morten Qvenild becomes a sonic explorer. He innovates and improvises. Constantly, he challenges musical norms, and pushing musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. The result is Personal Piano, which is without doubt one of the most ambitious and innovative genre-melting albums of 2015. 

On Personal Piano, Morten Qvenild combines disparate musical genres. Everything from ambient, avant-garde, classical, electronica, experimental, free jazz, post rock, psychedelia and rock are combined on Personal Piano. They’re thrown into Morten Qvenild’s musical melting pot, and given a stir. This heady musical brew he called Personal Piano. 

Featuring seven improvised soundscapes, Personal Piano is a mesmeric fusion that’s guaranteed to captivate and compel. Morten Qvenild takes the listener of a seven musical adventures. The sonic sorcerer throws musical curveballs, before springing a series of musical surprises. Nothing is it seems. Using a myriad of effects, sounds are transformed. They become something very different. As a result, one minute the music is  cinematic, the  next dramatic and  dreamy. Other times, it becomes moody and broody. Then the next, it veers between pensive and understated, to melancholy or melodic. Constantly, the music changes direction. It’s a case of expect the unexpected. Subtleties and sonic surprises are constantly sprung. Morten Qvenild becomes a musical sorcerer and explorer, as he takes  listener on a magical mystery tour that’s his long awaited, and groundbreaking debut album Personal Piano.

MORTEN QVENILD-PERSONAL PIANO.

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