Norwegian composer Jan Martin Smørdal, the co-founder of the Ensemble neoN, is not only a busy, in-demand composer, inspired by topics or phenomena like emergence, swarm behavior, and patterns found in flocks in nature but also a busy father of twins. In the latter capacity, he found himself preoccupied with thoughts about chaos, layers of rhythms, and the inevitability of humans as social beings. Some of these thoughts were incorporated into the process of composing his new work, «Choosing To Sing» that made him aware «of the seeming lack of order that is necessary for something to emerge as meaningful».
«Choosing To Sing» (2015) was written for Ensemble neoN, augmented by trumpeter Eivind Lønning. It is divided into two parts, each in four segments. Smørdal describes this music as exploring “the ever-changing (s)pace found in both repetitions, and in reaction”.
«Choosing To Sing» alternates between segments that focus on the quietest, bare wind-like sonorities of Lønning’s extended breathing techniques and the slow, deep resonating sounds of the Ensemble neoN reeds and strings instruments, «the most intimate nothing» as SmørdaL call them, to other segments that emphasize repetitive, abstract noises, «close-to-white-noise everything», highlighting the work of percussionist Ane Marthe Sørlien Holen, especially on the most intense pieces here, «React II». All pieces sound as incorporating and transforming ideas from minimalist, electronic soundscapes and drones into the experimental, contemporary language of an acoustic, chamber ensemble. Somehow, all these pieces blend into a series of alien, delicate sonic entities, sometimes even twisted-playful forms of songs («Call, but response»), that have intriguing, seductive qualities.
Ensemble neoN (Heloisa Amaral (p), Inga Grytås Byrkjeland (c), Karin Hellqvist (vio), Ane Marthe Sørlien Holen (perc), Silje Anker Johnsen (v), Yumi Murakami (fl), Solmund Nystabakk (g), Jan Martin Smørdal (comp), Eivind Lønning (tp)
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