ERIK HONORE-UNREST.

Erik Honoré-Unrest.

Label: Hubro Music.

As 2014 dawned, Erik Honoré had just turned forty-seven, and was a vastly experienced composer, musician, producer and vocalist with over twenty-five years of experience and 150 credits to his name. Erik Honoré was also a writer, but since graduating from the Norwegian Institute For Stage and Studio in Oslo, as a sound engineer and producer, seemed to have lived and breathed music.

Previously, Erik Honoré had been a member of Punkt,  Velvet Belly and Woodlands, and had worked with the great and good of Norwegian music, including Arve Henriksen, Christian Wallumrød, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang. Erik Honoré had also worked with David Sylvian on several occasions, and with Jon Hassell, Brian Eno and Peter Schwalm. Still Erik Honoré found time to run the Punkt-festivalen which the two friends had founded in 2005. However, there was still one thing that Erik Honoré had to do…release his debut album.

Nine months later, on the ‘8th’ of September 2014, Erik Honoré’s critically acclaimed, groundbreaking debut album Heliographs was released on Hubro Music. It showcase the considerable talents of Erik Honoré, who was, and is, one of the leading lights of the Norwegian music scene and a pioneering musician who had always been willing to push music boundaries to their limit. Heliographs was, without doubt, one  of the best Norwegian albums of 2014, and many critics thought was a possible contender for a Spellemannprisen, the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy Award. That was testament to Erik Honoré’s talent, imaginative and ability to innovate.

Three years after the release of his critically acclaimed debut album Heliographs, Erik Honoré makes a welcome return with his eagerly awaited sophomore album Unrest, which was recently released by Hubro Music. Unrest was the album that many critics and record buyers have been waiting for, to see what direction musical pioneer Erik Honoré’s music would head on his sophomore album? It’s just the latest high-profile album that Erik Honoré has worked on during the last couple of years.

Ever since the release of Heliographs, time management has been important for Erik Honoré. He is often involved in many projects simultaneously, including running the Punkt-festivalen, which Erik Honoré and Jan Bang founded in Kristiansand 2005. 

By then, the pair had been collaborating since they were teenagers, and had been involved in a number of projects. Erik Honoré and Jan Bang’s latest project, Punkt-festivalen, was a groundbreaking concept where concerts that have just taken place were then remixed live. At the heart of the concept was improvising with sampling. Little did Erik Honoré and Jan Bang realise how popular their Punkt-festivalen would become. Now there are spinoff festivals in over thirty cities in Europe and Asia, and the original festival has been curated by the great and good of music, including Brian Eno, John Paul Jones, Laurie Anderson, David Sylvian, and in 2017 Daniel Lanois. However, the Punkt-festivalen has taken up just some of Erik Honoré’s time since he released Heliographs in September 2014.

Erik Honoré has still found time to work with a number of artists, in a variety of roles. This included making a guest appearance on two tracks on Karl Seglem’s 2015 album Lærad=The Tree. Then when  Arve Henriksen came to record his latest album Towards Language, in August Erik Honoré played an important role in its success. Erik Honoré cowrote eight of nine tracks, played synths and co-produced Towards Language, which was released to critical acclaim in June 2017. 

After spending much of his time working with other artists,  it was time for Erik Honoré to concentrate on his own projects. This included recording Tuesday Gods, which was his second collaboration with his partner Greta Aagre. Tuesday Gods was the followup to their critically acclaimed debut album Year Of The Bullet which was released in 2012. When Tuesday Gods was released in August it received the same praise and plaudits as its predecessor, which augured well for the release of Erik Honoré’s eagerly awaited sophomore album Unrest.

It wasn’t going to be easy to followup such an ambitious, important, influential and innovative debut album as Heliographs. However, Erik Honoré was determined to build on his debut album Heliographs and drew inspiration from the what was going on around him. Erik Honoré explains:how: “the album was made during a period of unrest…both the external, social unrest that we have all felt in recent years and more personal experiences of agitation, conflict, turbulence. It became increasingly clear to me that these perceptions influenced the aesthetic choices I made during the process. I have probably chosen sharper edges in these compositions and collages, subconsciously or intuitively in the first, improvisational stage and later extremely consciously in the production and editing processes. ‘Unrest’ was a working title early on, but in the final analysis it was the only title that fit.”

The majority of Erik Honoré’s sophomore album Unrest, was recorded at The Green Room, in Oslo. That was where Erik Honoré and The Musicians composed the eight soundscapes that became Unrest. This included drummer Erland Dahlen, guitarist Eivind Aarset, vocalist Sidsel Endresen, saxophonists Espen Reinertsen, trumpeters Arve Henriksen, violist Ole-Henrik Moe, violinist Kari Rønnekleiv and Jan Bang who took charge of live sampling. Erik Honoré programmed and played the synths, acoustic guitar, piano, percussion, added vocals and produced and mixed Unrest, where Erik Honoré once again used sampling.

This has been a feature of Erik Honoré’s projects, and was used on Heliographs. This time around, Erik Honoré used a variety of vocal and instrument samples that had been recorded at Punkt events in Kristiansand, Molde and Prague. They were then condensed and reworked in Erik Honoré’s home studio at Kampen, Oslo. However, this wasn’t the only example of sampling technology being used on Unrest.

One of the tracks, Procession is Erik Honoré’s live remix Erik Honoré from a Stian Westerhus’ concert at Punkt 2016. It’s yet another reminder that Erik Honoré is pioneering musician who creates groundbreaking music. 

Erik Honoré’s described how he uses sampling on Unrest. “The process was very similar: improvisation around live samples of vocalists and instrumentalists, followed by extensive editing and collage work. A quick, intuitive phase, and then a protracted, detail-oriented process. But in my ears the expression is rougher and more confrontational. I hear the album as more direct, and definitely darker. Heliograph’s ‘Dark-Eyed Sister’.” That is a good description of Unrest, where Erik Honoré headed in a different on several songs.

Up until Unrest, Erik Honoré was known for composing and recording instrumental music. However, on Unrest Erik Honoré and Sidsel Endresen add vocals which add to the sheer intensity  and emotion of Unrest which is a resonant and captivating album from one of Norwegian music’s pioneers, who paints pictures on eight cinematic soundscapes.

Cinematic certainly describes Surge, which opens Unrest. So does dark, eerie and moody, as the soundscape unfolds and a plink plonk piano plays slowly as the sounds and samples flit in and out, rumbling, crackling and creaking. This includes a distant, otherworldly vocal and brief burst of a braying horn. It signals a change, as the music becomes understated and much more melodic. Pizzicato strings and rasping horns enter and disappear, before percussion and piano replace them as the soundscape becomes ruminative and even dramatic as a drone emerges and accompanies the pizzicato strings as this captivating cinematic soundscape draws to a close.

Abandoned Home is the first of a triumvirate of tracks to feature vocalist Sidsel Endresen. She delivers the tenderest of heartfelt vocals as distant piano plays and an acoustic guitar is strummed. Later, when her vocal drops out, strings swell and are joined by beeps, squeaks and samples that play their part in the understated arrangement. It’s a case of less is more. That is the case when Sidsel returns and delivers  a slow, whispery vocal. As it drops out, strings replace it before the piano plays and replicates the ethereal beauty of Sidsel’s vocal. Together, they’re yin to Sidsel’s yang in beautiful, emotive soundscape.

Unrest allows Erik Honoré to use his imagination, as he deploys shrill strings that squeal and squeak before feedback threatens to interject and add to the Unrest. Soon, the sweeping strings become urgent and add to the intensity before samples of dripping water and subtle shimmering drones combine with electronics. Then when a ruminative horn enters, and is joined by a distant cooing sound this beautiful combination is a game-changer and transforms this imaginative and chameleon-like soundscape

Remain is the shortest soundscape on Unrest, and lasts just 1.21. It finds Arve Henriksen’s trumpet taking centre-stage on this beautiful, ruminative soundscape. 

Blinded Windows marks the return of Sidsel Endresen’s vocal, which quivers and shivers emotively as the arrangement builds and provided a dramatic backdrop as it ebbs and flows and sometimes surges. Synths, samples and a subtle lone piano which sends out what sounds like a secret code as Sidsel’s vocal is a mixture of emotion, drama and intensity. Later, it becomes ethereal and soul-baring as it plays its part in this powerful and poignant song.

A rumbling sound ushers in a distant piano on Apparition, which is accompanied by an array of samples and strings. They set the scene and add to the tension as Erik Honoré’s vocal is transformed into an instrument as he improvises and injects emotion and drama into his vocal. Maybe he has seen an  Apparition, and is trying to convince himself the ghostlike figure doesn’t exist. Behind him, swells of cinematic strings, join beeps and squeaks as Erik Honoré paints pictures on a soundscape that is sure to set the listener’s imagination racing. 

Procession is a near eight minute epic, which Erik Honoré remixed live at a Stian Westerhus’ concert at Punkt 2016. Straight away, there’s a hypnotic sound as a sampled vocal is repeated and joins drums to create a captivating and mesmeric backdrop. Meanwhile, percussion and samples are deployed and add to the dreamy, hypnotic sound that is reminiscent of The Orb as Procession floats along, making the world seem a better place.

The Park closes Unrest, with Arve Henriksen’s trumpet ushering in Erik Honoré’s vocal which is accompanied by the distant ethereal sound of a choir and occasional bursts of thunder. Synths are deployed are but used subtly, ensuring they don’t overpower the choir and the vocal as it delivers evocative and powerful lyrics. Later, when Arve Henriksen’s trumpet enters, it adds the finishing touch to one of the highlights of Unrest.

Just over three years after Erik Honoré released his debut album Heliographs September 2014, he returned recently with Unrest which was also released by Hubro Music. Erik Honoré described Unrest as: “Heliograph’s ‘Dark-Eyed Sister.’” That is a good description of Unrest, which is album that has an intensity and an element darkness and drama. 

Unrest is also an evocative album that that triggers emotions and forces the listener to think as Erik Honoré and his all-star band paint pictures during the eight cinematic soundscapes. Some of the soundscapes on Unrest are chameleon-like, as Erik Honoré takes the listener on a musical roller coaster. Occasionally, he throws curveballs as darkness and drama give way to beauty. Other soundscapes are ruminative, while others have an ethereal quality as Erik Honoré combines disparate musical genres.

This was the case on his debut album Heliographs, and is the case on Erik Honoré’s eagerly awaited sophomore album Unrest. It finds Erik Honoré combining elements of ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental music, improv, jazz and musique concrète. There’s even a hint of Krautrock on Procession, which the multitalented Erik Honoré remixed live at a Stian Westerhus’ concert at Punkt 2016. It’s quite unlike the other soundscapes on Unrest, but shows Erik Honoré’s versatility and ability to innovate.

Innovating is something that fifty year old Erik Honoré has been doing throughout a four decade career. Mostly, he’s worked with other people, been part of a band or most recently, collaborated with his partner Greta Aagre. As a result, Unrest is only Erik Honoré’s sophomore album. However, Unrest is a career defining album from musical pioneer Erik Honoré whose honed and sculpted his own unique and inimitable sound and style which debuted on Heliographs and makes a welcome return on Unrest.

It has been well worth the three-year wait, and Unrest is sure to set the bar high for Erik Honoré’s future. Doubtless, he will rise to challenge once again, and return with another ambitious album of imaginative, innovative and influential music as befits one of the leading lights of the vibrant Norwegian music scene. However, Erik Honoré reaches new heights on Unrest, which  is a captivating album which feature a mixture of intensity, darkness, drama, emotion and ethereal beauty, that sometimes, features a ruminative sound that invites reflection as one of Norwegian music’s pioneers, paints pictures on eight cerebral and cinematic soundscapes.

Erik Honoré-Unrest.

 

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