kÖök is the Norwegian, Oslo-based experimental duo of guitarists Stian Larsen and Jørn Erik Ahlsen Alkanger, who celebrate its 10th anniversary with a fifth album that expands the duo into an ad-hoc quintet. kÖök was augmented by the experienced pianist Morten Qvenild (of In the Country, Solveig Slettahjell band and Shining fame) and drummer Per Oddvar Johansen (of The Source, Petter Wettre and Close Erase fame) and up-and-coming trumpeter Marius Gjersø. The expanded kÖök was recorded at Ugla Lyd in Nesodden, Qvenild’s recording studio, in June 2022. The album is released in a limited edition 12’’ vinyl version and a download option.
The aptly titled 5 offers two extended, free-associative and evocative pieces, true to the minimalist, free improvised mode of operation of kÖök’s previous albums. The first one, «The Munich Mannequins» is a cinematic, lyrical piece that enriches the suggestive and intimate, ambient guitar soundscapes of Ahlsen Alkanger and Larsen with Gjersø’s ethereal, velvety voice, influenced heavily by the seminal Arve Henriksen, and gently harmonized by Qvenild’s sparse grand piano playing and anchored by Johansen’s precise and dynamic touches. This piece becomes more detailed and layered with many effects, more intense and frantic as it progresses but is shy from a cathartic conclusion.
The second piece, «Berlin Death Trip», suggests a more complex, urgent and energetic mix of electronics-tinged ambiance and free jazz, that enjoys the strong voices – literally – of Qvenild, Johansen and Gjersø. It sounds like a distorted and often even explosive series of collisions between kÖök’s unique and subtle sonic universe with the jazz and improvised music languages of its guest musicians that at times take this meeting close to doom metal territories, still free-associative and expressive. Mid-piece, the expanded kÖök returns briefly to its minimalist, intimate and enigmatic, nuanced ambient mode and soon explores again its new, intense mode. This piece may mark the future of kÖök’s ever-evolving sonic vision.
Stian Larsen (guitar), Jørn Erik Ahlsen (guitar), Morten Qvenild (piano), Per Oddvar Johansen (drums), Marius Gjersø (trumpet)