• slagr Dirr (LP, £15.75)

    The meditative music of Slagr (Anne Hytta, Katrine Schiott and Amund Sjoli Sveen) creates a magical sound-world whose simple melodies and drones combine with an audio-palette of austere yet beautiful instrumental textures to provoke an infinite sense of openness capable of conveying a myriad of meanings. The instruments themselves - Hardanger fiddle, cello, vibraphone and glass harmonica - imply a measure of the music’s reach, from the folk tradition to renaissance polyphony to the contemporary avant-garde. It’s an aesthetic where the humble, home-spun legacy of Nordic fiddle tunes and church music meets the reticent yet sensuous minimalism of Morton Feldman amid a mysterious liminal soundscape where what is heard sometimes seems like it’s on the very edge of consciousness, as if one is half awake and half in dreams, the music half there and half not. On ‘Aur’, the wonderfully pliant opening track on ‘Dirr’, Amund Sjolie Sveen’s glass harmonica drones suggest the distressed piano-shimmers of Roy Budd’s introductory theme to the cult thriller ‘Get Carter’, or John Barry’s iconic cimbalom strings on ‘The Ipcress File’, together with their well-attested mutual influence on the creepy Theremin opening to Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’. Indeed, one of the great attractions of Slagr’s imaginative open-ness is the potential it holds for hearing allusive echoes of all sorts of things, from sleigh bells to seances. And the idea of a seance - the conjuring up of a particular spirit or atmosphere - might be a relevant reference point. There is an inescapable sense of the uncanny here, a Gothic evocation of rituals in the dark that is very effective whether the music is listened to attentively or used as a kind of subtle ambient ectoplasm floating in the background. Tracks: Aur / Strimesong / Flimmer / Hel / Varle / Eir / September / Oyr


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