Icelandic bassist Skúli Sverrisson and American guitar hero met for a recording session at EastSide Sound studio in New York in June 2017 and immediately established a quiet and profound communion. They sat across from each other, played for two days but barely talked. They smiled a lot, and Frisell said later that Sverrisson tapped into «something that was in my imagination, but even deeper and further. It feels like we’ve known each other longer than we have». When filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (who is a collaborator of the recording engineer Marc Urselli) visited the studio he observed: «Brothers from another mother, these two».
Sverrisson and Frisell participated in the recording sessions for Laurie Anderson’s «Life on a String» (Nonesuch, 2001). Since then, both Sverrisson and Frisell wanted to find the opportunity to play together. «Strata» was the first time that they played together as a duo, and this album was first released exclusively on vinyl as part of a Newvelle Records limited-edition Season Three box set in 2018, now sold-out, and now released in a digital version by Sverrisson.
Sverrisson composed ten songs with Frisell in his mind. These melodic and gentle songs flow so naturally that you may feel that these songs were already ingrained in your memory a long time ago. These songs correspond with each other and accumulate into a magical listening experience. The melodic songs and ballads are simple, often folky ones, but highly nuanced. The atmosphere of «Strata» is reserved, almost minimalist and, obviously, intimate. The interplay is modest, peaceful and effortless as if Sverrisson and Frisell just had to be there, playing only the essential notes and nothing more. Sverrisson and Frisell rarely employ effects and sound like kindred souls that share a rich and highly personal language that produces a sense of inevitable logic – hypnotizing and surreal. It is almost impossible to pick favorite songs, but I would recommend «Amedeo» and «Her Room».
«Strata» is one of the rare albums that you can play it again and again on end and every time you would marvel at its many beautiful spells.
Skúli Sverrisson (b), Bill Frisell (g)