Label: Hubro Music.
Four years after Lumen Drones released their critically acclaimed eponymous debut album on ECM Records in late-2015, Nils Økland, Per Steinar Lie and Ørjan Haaland recently return with their much-anticipated followup Umbra, which was released on Hubro Music. Umbra is an epic album that doesn’t disappoint and marks the welcome return of this truly talented trio.
Lumen Drones returned to the ABC Studio in Etne in 2016 to begin work on their sophomore album. By then, critics and record buyers had realised that this was a groundbreaking group who were capable of creating genre-melting music. This was no surprise as drummer Ørjan Haaland, guitarist Per Steinar Lie and Nils Økland who plays Hardanger fiddle and violin were all from very different musical backgrounds.
This they used this to their advantage and over the next two years they pushed muscle boundaries to their limits and sometimes, its seemed beyond. Lumen Drones penned and produced nine tracks that were a mixture of disparate genres and became Umbra. The album was completed in 2018 and mixed by engineer Kjetil Ulland and mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab.
When the album was completed, it quickly became apparent that Lumen Drones had surpassed the quality of their debut. It was another album of experimental album of what was described as “electric” music, but it was also inventive and innovative. The music on Umbra also gave many clues to the three members musical background.
For those unfamiliar with drummer Ørjan Haaland and guitarist Per Steinar Lie, they’re members of the influential and innovative post rock band The Low Frequency in Stereo. They’ve been together for twenty years and in 2012 were nominated for a Spellemansprisen, which is the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy Award the pop category. The pair provide the perfect foil for violinist and Hardanger fiddle player Nils Økland, who grew-up playing classical and folk music. Nowadays, he leads The Nils Økland Band, whose 2018 offering Lysning was also nominated for a Spellemansprisen. Nils Økland is a familiar face on the vibrant Norwegian music scene and a veteran of many albums. Between 2016 and 2018 he joined forces once again with the two members of The Low Frequency in Stereo on Umbra.
On Umbra Ørjan Haaland’s thunderous, pounding and resounding drums combine with Per Steinar Lie menacing guitar as it buzzes and bombilates while combining with the inimitable and sound of Nils Økland’s Hardanger fiddle. It veers between understated and subtle to otherworldly and menacing as it combines with the rest of Lumen Drones on the nine captivating tracks on Umbra.
It’s an album where the more one listens, the more nine tracks reveal their secrets and subtleties. Regardless of how hard and often one listens to Umbra, it’s almost impossible to define the music. It’s a musical potpourri that features pentatonic scales as Nils Økland’s sympathetic strings drone and elements of disparate genres melt into one. This includes avant-garde, classical, drone, experimental, folk, improv, jazz, Krautrock and post rock. Effortlessly the trio showcase their ability to improvise and combine musical genres to create something new and groundbreaking. However, it’s a case of expect the unexpected.
Sometimes, Lumen Drones play with a subtlety, with Nils Økland’s Hardanger fiddle taking centre-stage, and then it’s all change as Ørjan Haaland’s provide a stomping, hypnotic Motorik beat as this talented and versatile trio are transformed into a very different band. Other times, they unleash washes of feedback which wail and whine creating an otherworldly sound. This they tame giving it a musicality. Then on Inngang the music is mesmeric, while Etnir and Under djupet can only be described as majestic. Umbra is a truly spellbinding album where acoustic and electric instruments are deployed and lay their part in creating a groundbreaking sound. It’s been influenced by a countless bands and musicians.
This includes legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale, John Cale, a nod to Sonic Youth as well as Lamonte Young, Paganini and Joy Division. They’ve all influenced the music on Umbra which is Lumen Drones much-anticipated sophomore album and a groundbreaking genre-melting Magnus Opus from this truly talented and versatile trio.