The debut solo album of Norwegian double bass player Sigurd Hole, «Elvesang» (River song in Norwegian), was recorded on July 2016 at the historic wooden church of Ytre Rendal. This church was built in 1751 and is surrounded by farmland, situated near lake Lomnessjøen, close to where Hole grew up, the town Rendalen, at the south-eastern county Hedmark of Norway. The sounds of this pastoral, traditionally rich region were integrated into this recording – a sudden thunder, the singing of birds or the soft trickling of warm summer rain on the roof, intensifying – literally – Hole affinity with Norwegian folk music.
Hole is known from the Eple Trio as well from his collaborative projects with sax player Karl Seglem and pianists Helge Lien and Tord Gustavsen. «Elvesang» distills the essence of his work as an imaginative improviser. To be – fully conscious – and to listen, listen to the sounds and to the silence; to be open to one’s surroundings, letting the smallest changes lead you to new courses while, still, following your own intentions and direction. For Hole, the listening experience to our surroundings – to each other or to the nature – is an important mean to deepen our listening skills; to be able to listen to ourselves, ourselves as elaborate, more attentive musical beings.
The improvisations of «Elvesang», released on Hole newly found label by the same name, explore the double bass as a medium of sound. The bass as an instrument that contemplates, meditates and transforms the listening to the natural surroundings into music, much like the Japanese bamboo flute Shakuhachi transforms abstract sounds of Zen meditation – breaths and occasional winds, into music. Hole employs a variety of techniques and tunings that further expand the sonic range of his double bass in order to offer a series of colorful, nuanced textures and dynamics.
The 12 improvised pieces correspond with each other, suggesting together a quiet, almost out-of-time listening experience, where time disappears into another dimension. This austere, introspective experience is enhanced by Hole impressive, singing tone, creating resonant overtones with his bow on «Prelude», sketches a folk dance on «Soloppgang», translates the sound of a fleeting thunder on «Torden» into a percussive idea with his bow or simply, flowing with free-associative ideas on «Tre». «Lysning» tells an enigmatic, cinematic story with minimalist, precise touches of the bow on the strings. «Ragn» offers a sonic atmosphere close in spirit – literally – to the Shakuhachi flute while on «Skogdans» Hole develops an orchestral, rhythmic idea. Hole articulates another detailed, melodic texture with his bow on the last, title-piece, adding more colors, nuances and rhythmic ideas as this piece unfolds and blossoms.
Beautiful and masterful.
Sigurd Hole (b)