Bilayer is the Norwegian experimental duo of trumpeter and live electronics player Hilde Marie Holsen, known from her acclaimed solo albums «ASK» and «Lazuli» (Hubro Music, 2015 and 2018), and analog synthesizer player Magnus Bugge. Bilayer describe its music as «a story where one does not know the origin of its sonic elements». The manipulated sounds coming from the trumpet of Holsen, going through the digital realm of computer processes, and Bugge’s analog and digital synthesis, tape music techniques, generative and algorithmic systems, experimental sequencing and sonification, are equally important. Both Holsen and Bugge focus in exploring and resolving the tension of any free-improvised setting towards a process of collaborative composing.
The self-titled album of Bilayer features five minimalist pieces, carefully edited and arranged by Bugge from eight hours of recorded material the duo had captured during their practice sessions. During this process, the duo deleted a lot of recorded material, then re-contextualizes moments of pure improvisation and fully formed compositions. These pieces suggest diverse and distinct contexts, textures and emotions.
The opening «Inertia» is a quiet and meditative drone, where the processed trumpet lows like the constant motion of sea waves, slowly and patiently gaining more momentum and power. «Nystagmus» revisits the space-age prog-rock of German groups like Tangerine Dream, but adds a ceremonial twist to this soundscape with a recurring sample of church bells. «Dura Mater» is an abstract ambient texture, but charged with a strong lyrical presence and exploring the delicate tension between the acoustic sounds of Holsen’s trumpet and its mirrored electronics. «Amygdala» distorts this delicate, ethereal vein with abrupt white and industrial noises.
The 23 minutes of the title-piece piece tell the most complex and imaginary story. Bilayer sounds as coming back from faraway, alien planets to familiar Nordic territories as Holsen’s manipulated trumpet sings like a goat horn while Bugge’s electronics add a resonating layer that at times sounds as extending the sympathetic strings of Hardanger fiddle. Later this piece evolves into an enigmatic and stormy, cinematic texture that portrays completely different and much more dangerous and unfriendly terrains but concludes with a peaceful coda. Only the nervous presence of machine-like, fractured rhythmic patterns reminds us that sonic horizons of Bilayer are far broader than any specific genre, era or concrete geographical space.
Hilde Marie Holsen (tp, live elec), Magnus Bugge (analog synth)