Pipe and Drum is the sophomore album of the Norwegian, Oslo-based guitarist-composer Magnus Skaug, following Anthems Vol. 1 (Øra Fonogram, 2021). Skaug is accompanied by bassist Eskild Myrvoll and drummer Martin Heggli Mellem, both played on Anthems Vol. 1, and synths player Kai Von Der Lippe.
The atmosphere is still restless and energetic but for Pipe and Drum Skaug wrote precise avant-rock arrangements for the quartet that blends the experimental with the catchy. His clever arrangements force the listener to question where the beat lies before giving up and surrendering to the flow of the music. The quartet plays with a raw, punk-like directness, but you still identify hints of Skaug’s elaborate harmonic vision that embraces contemporary and indie music, and moves between tonal stability and off-pitch dissonance, forming an eclectic and liberated trademark.
The influence of American guitarist Adrian Belew, in his work with King Crimson and outside this seminal band, as well as his gift to sketch concise, catchy riffs, which was apparently clear already on Anthems Vol. 1 is even stronger on the highly disciplined arrangements of Pipe and Drum. But you also trace references to rough, insistent riffs of such iconic new wave bands like Television and guitarist Tom Verlaine, West African cyclical themes (check «Zugunruhe» and «Pibroch»), and explore abstract drones («Vinden på Ekeberg»). Skaug takes this journey to its most adventurous, outer regions on the effects-laden “Solo”, and keeps developing his uncompromising vision.
Magnus Skaug (g, synth), Kai Von Der Lippe (synth), Eskild Myrvoll (b), Martin Heggli Mellem (dr, perc)