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Arve Henriksen: The Height of the Reeds — an intoxicating cocktail of sound

Arve Henriksen: The Height of the Reeds — an intoxicating cocktail of sound

September 07
16:04 2018
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The nine tracks on this atmosphere-soaked sonic project blend Norwegian melancholy and desolate electronic textures with orchestral warmth. Originally commissioned by Opera North, the CD features Arve Henriksen’s wistful trumpet lead and a carousel of textures that have a rustle of reeds at one extreme and the swell of a full orchestra and chorus at the other.

The music was originally heard in headphones as an accompaniment to a “sound walk” over the Humber bridge during the first year of Hull’s tenure as the UK’s City of Culture. This aural context is made specific by field recordings by local found-sound artist Jez Riley French. These include engine noise, the rub of tyres on asphalt and the creaking of the bridge’s steel wires.

But for the most part the swishes and groans are merged with layers of programmer Jan Bang’s electronica, the resonant hum of Elvind Aarset’s guitar and Opera North’s orchestra and chorus. And it is the compositions as a whole that so effectively capture the movements and moods of wetland and industrial port alike.

The album opens with a child’s solo voice reciting an English translation of a Nils Christian Moe-Repstad poem quickly followed by sparse guitar and a cushion of strings. Henriksen enters over an orchestral swell on the next track, “Reefs and Roots”, his clean lines and pensive emotions unfolding over an undulating landscape of orchestral and electronic support.

Later, the trumpeter emerges from the swish of waves on “The Swans Bend Their Necks Backward to See God”, delivers hymnal melodies on “Height of the Reeds in the Wetlands” and is supported by an ethereal female choir and slithers of strings on “Nymphs and Eurasian Horses”.

But for the most part, the textured layers are integrated into an intoxicating cocktail of sound; mournful on “Is There a Limit for the Internal?”, rhythmic on “Waders” and jolly and romantic on “Pink Cherry Trees”, the final track.

★★★☆☆

The Height of the Reeds’ is released by Rune Grammafon



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