«Alien Horticultures» is the second project of Norwegian drummer-percussionist Jonas Howden Sjøvaag, known from the introspective Eple Trio and his collaborations with sax player Karl Seglem, and Finnish, Norway-based guitarist Juhani Silvola, known from his folk duo with Scottish fiddler Sarah-Jane Summers. This project continues the sonic journey that this duo began on «Music for Cities» (Shipwreckords, 2018) and offers another soundtrack for the busy, urban dwellers of the Nordic cities.
The five pieces of «Alien Horticultures» offer intense and tense, genre-defying cinematic soundscapes that encompass elements of art-rock, pop songs, Scottish and Norwegian folks songs and tons of free-associative improvisations. Its atmosphere is less dark and more open to sonic oddities and gestures of excess than the one offered on «Music for Cities», but still melancholic, restless and urgent.
Sjøvaag and Silvola are curious investigators of the urban experience. But, surprisingly enough, they find some sonic comfort and leisure in the nearby «Norwegian Forest», where they structure best their nuanced, story-telling kind of soundscape in a convincing narrative. «Grassland» imagines, as the cover also suggests, alien horticulture, as a natural resort in the midst of a dense industrial zone of a hyperactive city. Fittingly enough, this album ends with the disturbing and sparse «Heat Death», already imagining the bare, minimalist wilderness affected by the climate change.
Jonas Sjøvaag (dr), Juhani Silvola (g)