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CHRISTIAN WINTHER

«The Clearing»
FYSISK FORMAT, FY159

Norwegian Christian Winther made his mark on the local alternative scene as a guitarist in the experimental, free-improv bands like Ich Bin N!ntendo and Monkey Plot and the jazz collective Torg, but later he gravitated into singer-songwriter worlds, first in the duo Listen to Girl (with vocalist Ina Sagstuen) and now with his debut album, «The Clearing». Winther was always an artist who went in his own special way; an anti-guitarist who rejects the pyrotechnical expectations associated with the instrument; a musician who is drawn to the almost «al dente» form of music – the beauty that lies within the shaping of the idea, the sort of pre-idea, raw, spontaneous and intuitive.

«The Clearing» was conceived at a time when Winther was skating throughout Oslo and tried to deal with city life by buying a sailboat with his partner, keyboard player Anja Lauvdal. He says that this album is «about trying to find meaning in the city, exploiting its never-ending flow and the creativity hiding under its buildings, skating in it, camouflaging in it, finding moments of change and places to daydream in». Winther recorded the album mid-lockdown and is accompanied by Lauvdal, bassist Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard (who collaborated with him in Ich Bin N!ntendo and Monkey Plot) and drummer Hans Hulbækmo (of Atomic, Flukten, and Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra).

«The Clearing» expands the aesthetics of Listen to Girl. It is a guitar-oriented album, colored with subtle elements inspired by Brazilian music, the 90s Chicago scene (Jim O’Rourke), Norwegian Jenny Hval and spontaneous improvisations. Winther’s vocal delivery is direct, vulnerable and unpolished, and his guitar playing, on both the acoustic and electric guitars, is melodic, often sparked by samples made by Lauvdal. Moreover, Winther is an articulate and poetic singer-songwriter that enjoys experimenting with sounds and textures, literal and musical, as he sings: «Cast ones line and wait for miracles / A familiar chaos» in «Mirror»). The dreamy «Urfuglen» is taken from his commissioned work for the Motvind Festival in Oslo, and its lyrics here are inspired by the Norwegian surrealist poet Tor Ulven. The title song captures best the spirit of this impressive (but too short) album: «The minute melts, though / its temporary / and I can’t make the solid ground reshape / but Finders sleep for the dig / and dream of moments reborn».

Eyal Hareuveni 

Christian Winther (g, v, drum machine), Anja Lauvdal (synth, samples), Magnus Nergaard (b); Hans Hulbækmo  (dr, perc)

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