Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lumen Drones, Nils Økland, Per Steinar Lie, Ørjan Haaland

The only thing constant is constancy. Modern music-makers, if they are sincere about their art, find a personal aural space to dwell in and make something of. The creators may change their style over time, but each slice of time-music has a something that expresses the time we live in as it expresses something of the music-makers themselves as artists.

That was brought home to me once again with a release I recently received in the mail, Lumen Drones (ECM B0022099-02). It is a threesome playing music they dub "psychedelic drone." Well, that it is, just not anything generic in that mode.

The threesome consists of Nils Økland on the Hardanger fiddle, Per Steinar Lie on guitars, and Ørjan Haaland on drums. The latter two have been part of a post-rock outfit, The Lower Frequency in Stereo. Nils is known for his fiddle mastery. He appeared as guest on Lower Frequency's album Futuro in 2008. One thing led to another and in 2010 the three played together as a unit as part of a concert to benefit Haitian earthquake victims in 2010.

The result was that the three began getting together on a regular basis, jamming. The results were singular, with a drone psychedelic ambiance that mixed with the folk qualities of earlier folk drone music.

Lumen Drones, the self-titled album that is their first together, is the initial offering. It is what it is advertised to be, but with such an ambience and rootedness that it ends up becoming a genre of one at this point. All three contribute importantly as individual musicians, yet the totality is very much a combinatorial mix.

And that mix is a delight. I would hardly call it psychedelic light, unless by that is meant luminosity, for there is light in this music, filtered by the haze of being, dappled by the play of leaves in the wind, shifting yet constant. Yet it is not precisely "heavy," so "light" exists here also in the sense of capable of being airborne, floating above the density of our humdrum everyday existence.

Drones and the wash of ambient play is taken to heart by the three and embodied in their personal statement of what they do right now. And it is good. Very good.

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