American iconoclastic composer Pauline Oliveros introduced the concept of Deep Listening to the art world – exploring the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary, selective nature – exclusive and inclusive — of listening. Or as she defines it: «listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what one is doing». Norwegian experimental pianist-composer Else Olsen S. met Oliveros while she was completing her Ph.D. studies in the United States and sees her as her mentor. In 2009 she invited Oliveros to play in the Open Form festival in Oslo, in a quartet that featured vocalist Lisa Dillan and double bass player Øyvind Storesund.
The 2009 concert is now released as «Botanikk», a collection of seven pieces named after different plants that may be found in a wild and lush terrains, each plant has its own peculiar power. Oliveros plays on midi-accordion and her experimental, genre-dissolving approach is met with like-minded partners. Dillan sang jazz, improvised with the No Spaghetti Edition and offered evocative interpretations to Elvis songs; Øyvind Storesund played with free jazz outfits as the Frode Gjerstad Trio but also with art rock bands, flirting with noise and avant garde with Cloroform. Else Olsen S. began her career as classically-trained pianist but gravitated to experimental, contemporary music.
These botanic pieces grow in a patient, fragile manner, searching for a unifying stem through the haunting sounds of the toy-like sounds of the accordion, wordless vocals, crackling piano and deep-toned bass. Slowly this floral atmosphere finds more common ground, refining its olfactory interplay and blossoms with more colorful energy and dramatic tension. «Calluna Vulgaris» and «Vaccinium Myrtillus» distill the the four distinct voices and situate all in a conflictual mode, occasionally even pushing to some volatile peaks. This unique quartet reaches its most fragrant bloom in the last, meditative «Alchemilla», titled after a plant that emits every night a bit of its own liquid, settling like a sparkling gem on its green, spacious leaf. It is said that if you bathe in the dew of the Alchemilla, you will be forever young.
But if you are short of this magical plant dew, you can trust the healing effects of «Botanikk».
Pauline Oliveros (midi acc); Lisa Dillan (v, glass, metal), Øyvind Storesund (b); Else Olsen S. (prep p, elec)