Swedish, Gothenburg-based duo of pianist Karin Johansson and saxophonist-electronics player Lisen Rylander Löve dedicate their debut album as a duo, «Arter», to threatened species – plants and animals, as documented by SLU – the Swedish Species Information Centre’s red list. Johannson is known from her trio with double-bass player Nina de Heney and drummer Henrik Wartel, her duo with guitarist inn Loxbo, and Jonny Wartel 4. Rylander Löve works with the jazz quartets The Splendor and Here’s To Us and the electronic group Midaircondo.
The nine free-improvised pieces, recorded during one day at Elementstudion in Gothenburg, are titled after such endangered species as Fine-veined Crinkle Weed, Wentletrap, and The Two Lipped Door Snail, all highlight the highly expressive and poetic sonic imagery of Johansson and Rylander Löve. These evocative yet fragile soundscapes suggest a barren, melancholic atmosphere. The tone is understated and intimate, but detailed and inventive, as Johansson employs preparations on her piano and adds kalimba to her arsenal while Rylander Löve uses her voice, second kalimba, percussion, and live electronics. Furthermore, the piano and the saxophone are mixed together, organically with the prepared piano and the electronically processed sounds.
These nine modest but wondrous soundscapes accumulate to a unique protest statement about the loss of symphonic diversity, in mature as well as in music. «Tvåtandad spolsnäcka» visits alien, deserted territories, while «Växtklotterlav» and «Större vindeltrappa» sound as gentle but noisy manipulations of a secret lingo of exotic and rare plants. The resonating klaimbas on «Barrskogsspinnare» inject a dreamy dimension to this fragile, vivid soundscape, and «Drakblomma» sketches a chaotic, empty environment. «Blodrostmossa» is the only straight-ahead piano-sax duet here, a somber prayer for all threatened species. «Arter» ends with the peaceful and moving «Cirkelkrabba», where the repetitive, layered gestures, stressing the inter-dependency of us, and all species around us.
Johansson and Rylander Löve are true sonic poets who do know how to tickle our audio-visual imagination to nature’s ingenious and beautiful design.
Karin Johansson (p, prep p, kalimba), Lisen Rylander Löve (ts, v, kalimba, perc, live elec)