The Norwegian duo Sheriffs of Nothingness – violinist Kari Rønnekleiv and violist Ole-Henrik Moe, dedicate their fourth album «An Autumn Night at the Crooked Forest, four fireplaces (in reality only one)» to the oldest and most traditional place for afterthoughts, meditation, and reflection: the fireplace. The fireplaces – outdoors or inside the cozy homes – are the place for people to gather, to tell stories, to share thoughts, or, to just be. And most of you probably familiar with the Norwegian fascination with fireplaces. Just remember the Norwegian public TV (NRK) 12-hours program from a few years about wood burning.
The Sheriffs of Nothingness are trying to suggest a musical equivalent for this unique art of just being around the fireplace. «An Autumn Night at the Crooked Forest, four fireplaces» is not about complex dynamics or fast-shifting interplay. It is about a comforting feeling of statis, the time of the day when you are not trying to move on, where one can allow oneself to just halt and let your thoughts move freely. This album was recorded in October 2019 in the middle of Krokskogen, an old forested area west of Oslo, in an old cabin, and by a fireplace that was, in different ways, burning all the time. And if you listen carefully, you may hear the fire, crackling gently.
The four improvised pieces are dedicated to different types of firewood, or how it burns and glooms. These delicate and quiet pieces are profound and compelling textures. Rønnekleiv and Moe play as an indistinguishable sonic entity, focusing on the most intimate and suggestive, timbral qualities of their instruments. The flow of the fragile musical ideas is natural, unhurried, and obviously emphatic, even when the duo experiments with extended bowing techniques, as on the intense and tense «Great Spruce-log», or experiments with almost silent, ethereal overtones on the last piece, «Under-ash-embers, with hints of green light in spectrum».
These Sheriffs of Nothingness may be meditating about the Norwegian concept of hygge, but also offering a wise and impressive homage to their seminal inspirations: the innovative timbre-focusing composers of the sixties as Giacinto Scelci, Iannis Xenaxis and György Ligeti, the generation of spectralists and timbre-specialists of the next generation like Gérard Grisey, Helmut Lachenmann and Salvatore Sciarrino, the American composer as Morton Feldman and Alvin Lucier or the model of the great string-composers-performers-improvisers like double bass player Stefano Scodanibbio, violinist Malcolm Goldstein and violist Walter Fähndrich.
Kari Rønnekleiv (vio), Ole-Henrik Moe (viola)