«Botanisk hage» (botanical garden in Norwegian) is the debut album of the Norwegian contemporary music ensemble Tøyen Fil og Klafferi. This album comes with a map of an imagined botanical garden, placing the compositions within this garden in the middle of a bustling city, together with liner notes by biologist and author Hanna Bjørgaas.
Tøyen Fil og Klafferi is named after another imagined sound factory at the Tøyen neighborhood in Oslo, where the instruments stroke, trill, bow and blow life into new works of music. The quartet features classically-trained musicians from the contemporary music scenes in Trondheim and Oslo – flutist-bassoonist Hanne Rekdal, clarinetist Kristine Tjøgersen, violinist Eira Bjørnstad Foss and cellist Tove Margrethe Erikstad, all add many objects and electronics to their arsenal. Since its inception in 2010, Tøyen Fil og Klafferi invites composers of diverse backgrounds and musical orientations to write for the ensemble.
«Botanisk hage» was produced by composer Jan Martin Smørdal and offers six intriguing compositions that make an almost programmatic experience of moving inside the garden. The ensemble succeeds to tie these distinct compositions with intimate veins and creates a unique sonic environment, embroidered with subtle electronics. The opening piece, «Sumar» (2017) by Icelandic composer-guitarist Hafdís Bjarnadóttir and arranged by Tøyen Fil og Klafferi, samples the sound of Icelandic geysers and engage these delicate, liquid-based cycles to a kind of quiet, almost transparent but surprisingly synesthesia texture. «Luftwurzeln» (1993/2007) by German composer Carola Bauckholt is a minimalist, ethereal piece, true to its title – aerial roots in German. The brief «Radiolaria» (2017) by clarinetist Tjøgersen, a student of Bauckholt, is a fragile, almost silent drone, that lingers long after it ends.
«Chinese Telephone» (2019) by composer-reeds player Klaus Ellerhusen Holm, known mostly as a jazz musician who plays with Honest John, Nakama, Ballrogg and Paul Nilssen-Love’s Large Unit, investigates the timbral spectrum of the quartet instruments and how these minimalist, delicate sounds correspond playfully with whispering electronics. «Achenar» (2013/2017) by Swedish composer Ylva Lund Bergner sketches gentle and soft melodies and songs of imaginary flies and birds from the famous botanical garden. «Radio Days» (2015) by Norwegian composer Lars Skoglund is an inspired collage of radio samples and fragments of the ensemble, accumulated into a kind of radio bingo that keeps its tension and amused perspective throughout this piece.
Hanne Rekdal (C fl, bass fl, piccolo fl, bassoon, v), Kristine Tjøgersen (Bb cl, bcl, v, vitamin C fizz, vitamin C tube, shaker, tin can with rubber band, box with rubber bands, box with cat sand, stones, leaves, electronics); Eira Bjørnstad Foss (vio, cat and canary fl, juice carton with straw); Tove Margrethe Erikstad (c, v, metal bowl played with sand and bow, tin can with rubber band, box with rubber bands, water, branches, stones, elec)