«Calm Brutalism» documents the adventurous new partnership between Norwegian guitarist Svein Rikard Mathisen and American-Norwegian electronics player John Derek Bishop (aka Tortusa). The brutalism in question does not refer to some state of inflexible cruelty, but rather to the Brutalist architectural approach, which employed visually impressive yet “raw” and unfinished surface designs. These raw images provided the trans-media analogy for Mathisen and Bishop’s music, which they have called “monumental yet vulnerable” in the spirit of the original Brutalist experiments. Mathisen framed the aesthetics of this album in a short poem, that accumulates the ten titles of the pieces here: «Calm brutalism entangling the roads / Rest now in gloating darkness / Reveal yourself soon monkey / After corporations, lucent leaves grow».
«Calm Brutalism» was recorded during the Covid-19 outbreak in the separate home studios of Mathisen (in Oslo) and Bishop (in Stavanger). Its ambiance is dark, highly nuanced and refined, translated into unsettling cinematic sonic images, obviously, reflecting the stressful times of forced and distant isolation. But «Calm Brutalism» has an accumulative effect. This immersive and meditative listening experience, echoing vintage prog-rock but at the same time sounds also futuristic, asks us to question the vulnerability of even the most monumental and brutal buildings.
Mathisen and Bishop endured this singular moment in human history and eventually came out of the gloating darkness with some glimmering shafts of light and forward-facing optimism. The second half of «Calm Brutalism» offers lighter -literally – and gentler soundscapes, welcoming the return to busy and often noisy social interactions.
Svein Rikard Mathisen (g), John Derek Bishop (samp, elec)