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På skive


«The Crooked Path»

SKRIM is a new Norwegian supergroup born out of drummer Gard Nilssen’s residency at the 2019 edition of the Molde Jazz Festival and featuring keyboardist Morten Qvenild (Nilssen’s partner in the duo sPacemonKey), fellow-keyboardist Ståle Storløkken and guitarist Stian Westerhus, all doubling with electronics. The debut album of this promising quartet, «The Crooked Path», was recorded at Amper Tone in Oslo in June 2019, a month before its performance at the Molde Jazz Festival.

SKRIM is titled after the mountain area that separates – or connects – the small towns Kongsberg, where Qvenild comes from, and Skien, where Nilssen originates. There is a crooked, old kings’ path that connects these towns, about 40k on foot through the wild and mythical mountain, much shorter than the 90k by car. Most likely, the SKRIM band is picturing the people traveling over SKRIM to avoid inbreeding and depression in their home villages, bringing fresh blood, new directions, and new genetics. This crooked path certainly led SKRIM into wild musical landscapes end envigorating musical powers.

Clearly, SKRIM’s sonic wanderings in the studio visit wild and risk-taking sceneries. The first extended improvisation «When Mammals Go Dancing», could be inspired by the lynx and elk or rare orchids and the crystal clear green calcareous water in the lakes around the SKRIM mountain, but propels these pastoral images into a dense and tense, energetic improvisation. This piece swings between impossible crooked paths – the vintage sounds of the seventies, with its prog-rock keyboards and early computer games, and futurist sci-fi music, with its fractured, synthesized rhythmic patterns. It collides with edgy cliffs, melts into distorted and steep woods, but finally gravitates into a deliciously danceable pulse. Hubro lends an apt description to this inspired clash of these strong-minded, idiosyncratic personalities: as if «Blade Runner», or the monster from «Stranger Things», or the lynx from the SKRIM mountain possessed the SKRIM quartet.

The second, and last piece, «Akihabara by Night», named after Tokyo’s massive hotspot for electronic gadgets, suggests a darker, restless but sometimes even subdued and poetic urban scenery. This piece offers an exotic, cinematic vision of hyper-reality, corresponding with encrypted electronic sounds, all sound as collected from the imaginary archives of Akihabara’s endless gadgets, including the famous pachinkos. And all these sounds communicate with past and faraway, alien cultures, seeking to find the right frequencies for mending the crooked paths of SKRIM, the mountain and the quartet.

Can’t wait to take another wild ride in SKRIM’s crooked paths.

Eyal Hareuveni

Morten Qvenild (Fender Rhodes, synth, elec), Gard Nilssen (dr, perc, elec), Ståle Storløkken (Hammond org, synth, elec), Stian Westerhus (g, elec) 

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