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På skive



The instrumentation of the Norwegian, Oslo-based quartet Oker suggests an ensemble rooted in the jazz or chamber jazz legacies – trumpeter Torstein Lavik Larsen, acoustic guitar player Fredrik Rasten, double bass player Adrian Fiskum Myhr and drummer-percussionist Jan Martin Gismervik. These musicians are well-versed with the jazz legacy as well as with the free jazz and free-improv schools but are clearly not interested in articulating burning solos or rapid changing chords.

«Susurrus» (i.e. whispering, murmuring, or rustling), the sophomore album of Oker (following «Husene våre er museer», Sofa Music, 2018), perfects the minimalist, acoustic language of the quartet. The acoustic instruments emulate the concrète, acousmatic music and sounds of tapes and electronic devices, in a similar manner that Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger transformed the reductionist electronic music into his own vocabulary and syntax.

«Susurrus» was recorded in June 2019 and highlights Oker’s egalitarian approach to acoustic music-making. The four pieces were arranged and shaped collectively, and all employ an impressive array of extended breathing, bowing and percussive techniques, that blur the common roles of the acoustic instruments. A trumpet mute is used as a percussive extension of the trumpet, a guitar producing long stretched drones with electronic bows, the drumkit extended with coffee mugs and glockenspiel, and the dampen strings of the double bass being rapidly plucked.

These extended techniques, open tonalities and deconstructed grooves assist Oker to offer nuanced, elusive and unsettling, whispering textures. These textures range from the mysterious dreamscape of «Filament», to the sparse, suggestive percussive sounds of «Lichens» matched by trumpet’s white noise and distant touches of the guitar and double bass strings, and the strange folky melody of «Learning to Float» and the cinematic and surprisingly lyrical drone of «Formation of Starlings».

An exceptional, ear-opening listening experience.

Eyal Hareuveni

Torstein Lavik Larsen (tp), Adrian Fiskum Myhr (b), Fredrik Rasten (g), Jan Martin Gismervik (dr, perc)

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