«Steamdome II: The Hypogean» is a new chapter in Norwegian violinist-composer Ola Kvernberg’s ambitious musical journey that began with «Steamdome» (Grappa, 2017), a best-seller, a rhythmic deluge that graced the stages of Moldejazz and Kongsberg Jazz Festivals. The new chapter promises to be an even more souped-up kind of music therapy, compared to the pure-cultivated, organic, percussive music of «Steamdome», but fitted to the current times, free of pandemics and global disasters.
«The Hypogean»’s destination is the Earth’s glowing iron heart, for the last two years also the scene of Kvernberg’s private escape room. In this journey, there are no rules to the game and its inclusive approach to what rhythm and harmonies can do align with the dance club floors. «The Hypogean» relies on Kvernberg’s close associates from «Steamdome» – co-producer and drummer-percussionist Erik Nylander, bassist-guitarist Nikolai Hængsle, second guitarist Øyvind Blomstrøm and organist Daniel Buner Formo, plus two new drummers-percussionists, Olaf Olsen and Martin Windstad. The album was recorded at legendary Athletic Studio and mixed in Duper Studio by Jørgen Træen.
«The Hypogean» is composed of heavily processed layers of synths, drum machines, prepared piano, ARP’s, pump organ and vocals, structured as a restless and energetic soundtrack for an eventful drama. Occasionally, the original sounds of Kvernberg’s fiddle, Hængsle’s bass and guitar, or Buner Formo’s Hammond organ surface above the rhythmic layers of the dense, synthesized sounds. Eventually, these rare moments in «Carbonado», the title piece, the massive percussive sounds in the end of «Devil Worms» and the lyrical introduction to the last piece «Diamondiferous» are the most moving ones in this kind of infectious and physical dance celebration.
«The Hypogean» is structured as an epic, post-modern suite and claims to incorporate diverse influences, beginning with Gustav Mahler, continuing with Fela Kuti, John Williams, Luke Vibert, Kraftwerk, Caetano Veloso, yMusic and Billie Eilish and concluding with Squarepusher. An attentive listener may also add to this inclusive list Jeff Lynne’s «War of the Worlds», Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre early albums, or The Orb.
Ola Kvernberg (vio, viola, Hammond B3 org, Vox Continental, harmonium, g, theremin, Taurus, dr, perc), Øyvind Blomstrøm (g, pedal steel), Nikolai Hængsle (b, g), Daniel Buner Formo (Hammond B3 org), Erik Nylander (dr, pandeiro, tambourine, quirky perc), Olaf Olsen (dr), Martin Windstad (perc)