Norwegian trombonist and sound artist Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø’s approach to music was always inquisitive and in all his projects he explored the sonic spectrum of his instrument, as well as its counterpoint in microscopic sound possibilities. Most of his projects – solo and the duo Beam splitter with vocal artist and partner Audrey Chen, or the duos with electronics player Daniel Lercher and turntables artist JD Zazie – opted for intimate formats where he could further exhaust the unique sonic qualities of the trombone.
Dystopian Dancing is the third solo album of Nørstebø and focuses on investigating the timbral horizons of the amplified trombone in combination with various noise generators. The physical format of the album is accompanied by a 20-page offset printed booklet containing suggestive images taken by Nørstebø during the time of the recording and can be seen as additional gateways to memory and interpretation, though not in any way intended as a definitive visualization of the music itself.
Dystopian Dancing offers two pieces. «First Move» was recorded at Flerbruket, an old school house turned sound studio in the Norwegian countryside village of Hemnes, Norway, in November 2019. Nørstebø plays his trombone and a plastic reed with mutes and employs air compressor-like use of his lungs, and detailed microphone technique in order to unearth the intense physicality of the low-volume sound material. The source materials of this piece were not treated. The trombone becomes a new, alien-like but highly vivid entity with a mind and voice of its own that sends a series of abstract but alarming messages about barren landscapes.
The «Second Move» mirrors the «First Move» by its exact length but expands its sonic spectrum with a range of sound sources, all played or activated by Nørstebø. The sound sources for this piece were recorded at Flerbruket, the reverberant Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo and Perez in Berlin in 2020 and 2021, and later edited into this composition. This detailed and minimalist piece adds more melancholic, cinematic and somehow dystopian layers to the first piece. But it also enriches its sonic palette with unpredictable poetic sounds that gently and patiently decipher the abstract ones of the «First Move» until they erupt in what may be a weird kind of dance, then disappears into deafening silence.
Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø (tb, half cl, monotron, feedback, obj)