Runhild Gammelsæter and Lasse Marhaug are two influential sound artists in the Norwegian alternative music scene since the nineties. Gammelsæter was the vocalist of American doom-death metal band Thorr’s Hammer (Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson’s legendary pre-Sunn 0))) band) and the drone doom band Khlyst (with James Plotkin) and now is a professional biologist who works with biotech firms. The prolific Marhaug is also a sound engineer, graphic designer and publisher, and has worked with Frode Gjerstad, Maja Ratkje, Paal Nilssen-Love, Dror Feiler and many others. «Higgs Boson» is the second album of Gammelsæter and Marhaug, following Quantum Entanglement (Utech, 2014), and was initiated by O’Malley who invited them to open for Sunn O))) special gig in the St. James Church of Culture in Oslo in the autumn of 2019, and releases the album on his label Ideologic Organ. Gammelsæter wrote the lyrics and her and Marhaug recorded and produced the music.
After the successful performance, Gammelsæter and Marhaug began to work on new compositions for the new album until 2021, encompassing many non-musical inspirations from before and after the world went through the lockdown. Marhaug brought into the work process concepts informed by the structuralist experimental cinema of Japanese directors Takashi Ito and Toshio Matsumoto, futurist worlds of French comic book artists Philippe Druillet and Jean Moebius Giraud, landscape photography of Fay Godwin, Kåre Kivijärvi, and Tamiko Nishimura. Gammelsaeter’s research and lyrical ideas were inspired by «The Glass Bead Game» by Herman Hesse, the discovery of the Higgs Boson as a confirmation of the physical universe, the work of Ernst Schrödinger on the uncertainty principle, and the four forces of physics; The Force; Helplessness under armed forces – as the war sailors in World War II, and the influence of magic as expressed in tarot. Her vocal inspirational sources include Sidsel Endresen, Diamanda Galas, Natacha Atlas, the choral works of Sergei Rachmaninov, and the metal bands Carcass and Grave.
The music of Gammelsæter and Marhaug on «Higgs Boson» is surprisingly reserved, considering previous radical and experimental works by these idiosyncratic artists, and highlights its immediate emotional power. Gammelsæter and Marhaug play with electronic and acoustic instruments, object and field objects, with a pipe organ that defines the ritualist, song-like structures that center Gammelsæter’s mighty and hypnotizing vocals. Marhaug embraces her vocal musings with suggestive and spacious soundscapes with strong cinematic qualities, sometimes blending into her vocalizations, and other times dominating these vocalizations with detailed and imaginative noisy sounds. The album is developed patiently as a kaleidoscopic and multi-layered, cosmic story-like arc, that juxtaposes compelling texts and enigmatic chants and incantations about metaphysics, quantum physics and magic. All accumulating into one of the most profound yet otherworldly, immersive listening experiences one can have, as well as a gateway for diving deep into the inspirations of Gammelsæter and Marhaug while constructing this great work.
Runhild Gammelsæter (v, g, bells, digital p, org, processing), Lasse Marhaug (elec, synth, objects, mix)