«How Forests Think» is the third and most intriguing album of the Norwegian duo Vilde&Inga – violinist Vilde Sandve Alnæs and double bass player Inga Margrete Aas. The album explores four completely distinct scenes in the Oslo area, each with a strong presence – the unusually reverberant Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, the Newtone studio, by a lake in the Spikertjern forest outside of Oslo and at the harbor in the city center of Oslo – letting the acoustic conditions and the poetic meanings of each place and space become an essential part of the music-making and the unique sound. This double album was recorded in June 2019 and produced in close collaboration with French sound-artist and sound technician Benjamin Maumus, who employed different microphones and in changing proximities in order to incorporate and emphasize the peculiarities of each space in relation to the music, thus enabling the listener the feeling of touching the sound.
Vilde&Inga quote as sources of inspiration for their sonic search American and Finnish architects Robert McCarter and Juhani Pallasmaa (from their book «Understanding Architecture», Phaidon Press, 2012): «The sensation of placeness can come from a feeling of clarity as well as from a sense of mystery, from restraint or experiential abundance, regularity or spontaneity. A place has boundaries, size, and scale, but it can be immense, such as a continent or country, large, as a city or an urban square or boulevard, small, as one’s home or an individual room, or intimate, as one’s favorite seat in a café». And American philosopher Edward S. Casey: «Whatever is true for space and time, this much is true for a place: we are immersed in it and could not do without it. To be at all – to exist in any way – is to be somewhere, and to be somewhere is to be in some kind of place. Place is as requisite as the air we breathe, the ground on which we stand, the bodies we have. We are surrounded by places».
Vilde&Inga played as one sonic entity on their previous albums, demonstrating rare and profound chemistry and a telepathic interplay. Now they play as one with the distinct sonic spaces, adding a remarkable humane dimension of humility and compassion to their nuanced aesthetics. It is almost a devotional dimension since Vilde&Inga truly believe that nothing we do is unplaced and all the 15 pieces stress a reserved and contemplative tone.
You can sense – in the most physical and tangible manner – how their ethereal sound merge organically with the reverberating space of the Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, as Vilde&Inga meditate on the intersubjective relation between place and its sound and pulse on «I», «IV» and the mysterious «VII»; or how they create a natural commotion with exquisite bowing work in the studio on «III» and «VI»; and how they immerse themselves with the sounds and leisured pace of the forest on «IX» and «X» or surrender themselves to the cycle of the soothing rustle of the waves of Oslo harbor and the calls of the seagulls on «XI» and the majestic and moving last piece «XV», in the most modest manner. «XIII» is an exception in these cycle of soundscapes as Vilde&Inga sketch an innocent and playful, song-like melody with the forest bird calls.
A highly inspiring and a one of a kind album, that calls for repeated listening experiences (and better with headphones).
Vilde Sandve Alnæs (vio), Inga Margrete Aas (b)