Kim Myhr-Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds. 

Label: Hubro Music.

Release Date: ‘23rd November 2018.

Thirty-seven year old Kim Myhr is one of the leading lights of Norway’s vibrant and thriving experimental music scene and has been for the past two decades. During that period, he has spent much of the time touring, writing and recording, including his third album Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds which will be released by Hubro Music on the ‘23rd November 2018. This is just the latest chapter in the Kim Myhr story, and shows just how far he’s come since his early days in Trondheim.

The first time that many music fans heard of Kim Myhr was when he collaborated with Nils Ostendorf, Philippe Lauzier, Martin Taxt and Toma Gouband on the improv album Spin Ensemble, which was released in 2005. This was the first high-profile collaboration that Kim Myhr had been involved with, but certainly it wouldn’t be his last.

Three years later, on the ‘23rd’ of June 2008, Kim Myhr made his way to the at Hotel2tango, in Montréal, where he was about to record a live album with trio of Canadian musicians. This included  saxophonist and clarinettist Philippe Lauzier who was joined by DJ and improviser Martin Tétreault and violist Pierre-Yves Martel. The resulting album Disparation De L’Usine Éphémère, was released later in 2008 and hailed as an ambitious and innovative album that combined avant-garde, experimental and improv. This was another taste of what was to come from Kim Myhr.

Next stop for Kim Myhr was Sydney, Australia, where he was about to record an album with Jim Denley an improv musician who incorporated wind instruments and electronics into his music. This was the case on Systems Realignment, which Jim Denley and Kim Myhr released in 2009. It was an ambitious album of inventive and innovative music from Jim Denley and Kim Myhr who would renew their acquaintance the following year.

For Kim Myhr, 2010 was the busiest year of his career. Mural, the improv group he had formed with bassist Ingar Zach and saxophonist and flautist Jim Denley released their debut album Nectars Of Emergence in February 2010. This was the first of four albums Mural would release over the next five years. 

Just two months after Mural released their debut album, the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Kim Myhr released their critically acclaimed collaboration Stems And Cages during April 2010. This was the first of two collaborations between the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Kim Myhr.

Later in 2010, Jim Denley and Kim Myhr released Live In Munich, which was the followup to Systems Realignment. The pair also featured on their collaboration with  Philippe Lauzier,  Pierre-Yves Martel and Eric Normand, Transition De Phase. Both albums of improv found favour with critics, and rounded off what had been the busiest year of Kim Myhr’s career.

2011 started off with the released The New Songs’ debut album A Nest At The Junction Of Paths in February. It featured Kim Myhr on guitar and zither on a captivating album that fused avant-garde, jazz and pop. However, just a month later Kim Myhr was recording another album.

On the ‘4th’ of March 2011 Mural headed to the Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas to record what would become their sophomore album.This was Live At The Rothko Chapel, which featured one epic fifty-two-minute soundscape Doom And Promise. Live At The Rothko Chapel was released later in 2011.

By then, Live At Ringve Museum Trondheim 2011 had been released, which was a collaboration between a quartet that featured four of the top European improv artists. Kim Myhr had led a quartet that featured Burkhard Beins, Kari Rønnekleiv and Nils Ostendor during a concert that had been recorded in his home city on the ‘8th’ of May 2011. This was a proud day for Kim Myhr whose star was in the ascendancy. 

As 2012 dawned, Kim Myhr was preparing for the release of The Unknown Knowns, which was the debut album by his latest improv project Muringa. Kim Myhr was joined by drummer and percussionist Tor Haugerud, saxophonist and clarinetist Klaus Ellerhusen Holm and tubaist Martin Taxt. They had recorded Muringa’s debut album during two days in June and November 2010. Fifteen months later, The Unknown Knowns was released in March 2012 was well received by critics. However, there was still one thing Kim Myhr had yet to do, release a solo album.

This changed in March 2014, when somewhat belatedly, Kim Myhr released his critically acclaimed debut album All Your Limbs Singing. It had been recorded over two days in August 2013 in Berlin, Germany and showcased a truly talented, imaginative and innovative musician. 

Just a few months later, Mural returned with their third album Tempera in June 2014. This was their first album since 2011, and their first studio album since Nectars Of Emergence in 2010. Fifteen month later, Mural returned with a three CD set Tempo which had been recorded on April the ‘27th’ 2013 at the Rothko Chapel, in Houston, Texas. It was an ambitious, sprawling album that lasted nearly three hours, but sadly, Mural haven’t returned with a followup. Maybe that is because Kim Myhr has been concentrating on other projects?

This included Kim Myhr’s new collaboration with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, and one of Norway’s top singer-songwriters Jenny Hval. They collaborated on In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper which was credited to Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Kim Myhr and Jenny Hval and released by Hubro Music in July 2016. Critical acclaim accompanied In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper which was hailed as one of the best albums to come out of Norway during 2016. Considering how strong the Norwegian music scene was, this high praise indeed.

Just a couple of weeks after the release of In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper, Circadia a new multinational improv band that Kim Myhr was a member of, released their debut album Advances And Delays in late July. Advances And Delays was a live album that had been recorded at Fylkingen, Stockholm, on June the ‘26th’ 2014 and showcased the combined talents of a group that featured some top improv musicians. It was just the latest project that Kim Myhr was involved in during 2016.

In October 2016, Kim Myhr returned with his much-anticipated sophomore album Bloom, which was released by Hubro Music. Bloom certainly didn’t disappoint and surpassed the quality of his debut album All Your Limbs Singing. However, Kim Myhr would release one more album during 2016.

AJMiLIVE #13 was the debut album from The New Songs, an all-star improv band that Kim Myhr was a member of. They had recorded the tracks that became AJMiLIVE #13 in November 2014. Two years later, and The New Songs’ debut album AJMiLIVE #13 was released in November 2016 and found favour with critics. This rounded off the busiest year of Kim Myhr’s career so far.

As 2017 dawned, Ingar Zach and Kim Myhr were the latest artists to feature on the long-running Nonfigurativ Musikk series.  Nonfigurativ Musikk #22 was a split album, with each artist showcasing their skills on one side of this limited edition cassette. However, only thirty copies were released and for many fans of Kim Myhr this is the holy grail.

You | Me

The following month, February 2017, Kim Myhr and Lasse Marhaug released their first collaboration On The Silver Globe. It was released to plaudits and praise and was the latest addition to Kim Myhr’s burgeoning back-catalogue. However, by then Kim Myhr began recording his third solo album You | Me.

Kim Myhr’s third solo album You | Me was released to widespread critical in January 2018. By then, this ambitious and innovative album was nominated and then shortlisted for the prestigious Nordic Music Prize. You | Me was a fusion of disparate musical genres, including ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental, Hindustani classical music, improv, Musique concrète and psychedelia. It was Kim Myhr’s finest hour. The big question was what was next for Kim Myhr?

Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds.

By then, Kim Myhr had recorded his new album Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds at Athletic Sound, Halden, between October ’30th’ and ’31st’ 2017. The album was mixed by Espen Reinertsen in October 2017 and mastered by Rashad Becker in January 2018. This brought to an end a story that began in 2016.

That was when Kim Myhr was commissioned to write the music and text piece Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds as a commission for the 2016 FIMAV-festival (Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville) in Quebec, Canada. The following year, 2017, Kim Myhr recorded Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds.

Joining Kim Myhr on 12-string guitar when he recorded Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds were Montreal-based string quartet Quatour Bozzini, Huntsville and Dans les Arbres 

percussionist Ingar Zach. They’re joined by  poet Caroline Bergvall, who reads her own text on Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds and inspired Kim Myhr.

“Inspired by meeting poet Caroline Bergvall in 2015 and the music of Robert Ashley that I was listening to at the time, I was wanting to make a longer, slow-moving piece centered around a speaking voice…The composition is in six parts, but the parts all blend into each other so that they feel like one slowly changing state of mind” explains Kim Myhr. 

The combination of Kim Myhr, Quatour Bozzini, percussionist Ingar Zach and poet Caroline Bergvall is a fascinating, captivating and successful one, and results in Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds which is an album of ambitious, groundbreaking and genre-melting music.

Kim Myhr’s 12-string guitar glistens, shimmers, chimes and chirps, and combines with sprinklings of different types of percussion and stabs, sighs, whispers, drones and glissando slides courtesy of the Quatour Bozzini’s strings. They provide a counterpoint to Caroline Bergvall’s mesmeric voice which will have the listener spellbound and captivated, as music and text combines to create a rich, complicated and multilayered album in six movements. Each movement on Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds is a combination of sound, sense, discourse and narrative and is part of a cerebral and thought-provoking album.

Interestingly, neither the music nor text dominates Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds meaning the listener can enjoy and appreciate each part. Each movement is independent, which means it can be appreciated on its own, and can read or listened to separately. Having said that, it makes no sense not to immerse oneself in the entire album and enjoy and experience the six movements as one gives way to another on to Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds. 

What’s all the more remarkable about Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds is: “I had in fact composed all the parts to the music before any text was written…Although I did have the sound of Caroline’s voice, which can be both brutal and empathetic at the same time, in my head while I made the music. After a few days conversing together in London, Caroline wrote words relating to the general character of the music and our conversations around it. : something suspended in air, personal yet universal, a sort of sensual confusion of the subjective and the objective” remembers Kim Myhr. 

Although Kim Myhr’s music came first, Caroline Bergvall’s text seems tailor-made, and the perfect accompaniment on Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds. It continues to evolve and essentially becomes an a musical analogue which is transformed during the six movements. It’s a captivating and breathtaking musical journey which has been influenced by various musical pioneers.

In Kim Myhr’s case this includes the contemplative intensity of Morton Feldman, which is combined with the influence of Steve Reich’s Different Trains. Add to the mix Asian-influenced lyrics and a percussive masterclass from the versatile and talented Ingar Zach who switches between instruments and adds an important dimension Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds. In doing so, he narrows the gap between movements and the tonal distance between voice, guitar and the string quartet. However, Kim Myhr’s role can’t be underestimated.

He reflects that: “I wanted to take this delicate harmonic language I’ve developed on the 12-string guitar, which I’m at least partly indebted to Morton Feldman for, and bring it into a very warm, intimate sphere: The guitar itself helps create this intimacy, as it’s a domestic and intimate instrument that people often play in their own house, including their own bedroom. I think Caroline’s voice and words further emphasize this aspect. The listener is brought into the dreamy intimate world of the narrator, gently and floatingly shifting from one state of mind to another.” That is the case throughout Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds. 

Caroline Bergvall plays an important part in the success of Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds, especially  in terms of subject-matter and context. Her theme of transformation is especially relevant and is open to interpretation. She touches on everything from the personal to the political to the universal, and even the world of natural phenomena. Still Caroline Bergvall has more to say, and deals with social issues Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds. Her use of imagery and metaphors is powerful and an instant Caroline Bergvall takes the listener from a train journey in search of a beach, to the outer limits of the solar system. It’s an incredible journey on an incredible album.

The combination of Caroline Bergvall’s dramatic, chanting ritualised vocal which is akin concrete poetry, is combined with rhythmic repetitions, sweeping, swirling, dancing strings and a percussive masterclass. Together they replicate Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds as this genre-melting album reaches a dramatic ending.

It’s safe to say that Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds is Kim Myhr’s finest hour, and the most ambitious album of a long and successful career. Pressing Clouds Passing Crowd is a career defining opus from musical pioneer Kim Myhr, whose one of the leading lights of Norway’s vibrant and thriving experimental music scene.

Kim Myhr-Pressing Clouds Passing Crowds. 

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