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«Anthems Vol.I»

Norwegian guitarist Magnus Skaug explores his eclectic yet playful musical identity on his debut album in his own name, «Anthems Vol.I». Skaug is well-versed with the jazz guitar but he doesn’t like to commit himself to any genre or style. He has learned from iconic musicians-improvisers like John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, or innovative guitarist Mary Halvorson that he should be a practitioner of his own language, that would reflect his own relations to music and the guitar.

The 10 short songs of «Anthems Vol.I» last only 27 minutes, bursting with restless, intuitive energy and offer a mix of brief free-improvisations, breezy indie songs, noisy-punkish experiments and few conceptual pieces. He knows how to sketch suggestive, primitive riffs, not afraid to sound raw and dirty, and enjoys the company of the driving rhythm section of bassist Eskild Myrvoll and drummer Martin Mellem.

Points of reference are American guitarist Adrian Belew, in his work with King Crimson and outside this seminal band (listen to «Yoshi» and «Flute Punk»), and more elaborate, angular lines that owes much to the work of Halvorson («TellMeTheTruth»). Skaug visits the familiar melancholic Nordic territories with the ballad «A Reveal», goes wild on the layered and intense «Intense», demonstrating impressive usage of effects, and the last song, «Vacate», references briefly Norwegian guitar hero Terje Rypdal. None of the songs fits the description of an anthem, and none of them follows conventional courses. The listening experience of «Anthems Vol.I» is akin to an alternative radio program that explodes with reckless energy and infects the listener with its uncompromising, uplifting joy.

Eyal Hareuveni   

Magnus Skaug (g), Eskild Myrvoll (b), Martin Mellem (dr

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