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"What happens when a band decide to fly? They become the primordial bird from Tor Ulven’s poem. The sensation of flying is striking. The musicians seem to levitate, so too their audience."
– Susanne Christensen
On his sophomore album, Urfuglen, Christian Winther draw lines back to the post-punk era’s way of combining contemporary impulses with artistic sensibility. And following up on his debut album from last year, «The Clearing» (Fysisk Format), noise and experimentation is part of the picture also here, but with a genuine desire to find the beautiful moment, the shimmering harmony.
«It becomes the evocative sound of joy, immensely uplifting and markedly anti-depressive.», writes the danish art critic and writer Susanne Christensen on the album’s liner notes.
Behind the title and the Norwegian lyrics, Tor Ulvens surreal debut «The shadow of the primordial bird» from 1977 shines through. In Winther’s, like in Ulven’s, fabulating universe, surrealism’s instinctive, inward-looking and dreamy pictures are used as a way of processing the often cold and ruthless ravaging happening out there. But most importantly; to remind us of the connections we have with each other.
The «flying» band consist of some of the country’s most open minded, or post-punk-thinking, musicians from bands like Broen, Valkyrien, Monkey Plot and Mall Girl. Anja Lauvdal on synths/piano, Tuva Syvertsen on fiddles/vocals, Ina Sagstuen on vocals/electronics, Magnus Nergaard on bass and Veslemøy Narvesen on drums, in addition to Winther on guitars and voice. They each have strong signature expressions and contribute to an open soundscape full of spice, surprises and spontaneity. The intuitive is striking, and the record is mainly recorded live in the studio.
Urfuglen was born as a commissioned work for the edgy Oslo-festival Motvind’s 5 year anniversary, a perfect arena to present forward thinking music that can stand on its own completely free from the established genres. Within the open festival umbrella rock, free jazz, poetry, protest and spontaneity naturally coexist, and Urfuglen is exactly that. Last year’s lockdown turned the live premiere into a studio premiere, the musicians exhibiting a strong improvised attitude on top of Winther’s alternative rock compositions.
Although noise and experimentation is part of the picture, the influence from Brazilian music, or the way the guitar somehow fund a new melodic balance in the 90s Chicago scene, seems just as strong. Contrasts find a harmony here, listen to Valkyrien’s Tuva Syvertsen singing harmonies with Winther on «Urfuglen, Pt. 2», or the acoustic guitars on «Marmor» intertwining like something Jim O'Rourke and Gastr Del Sol companion David Grubbs would come up with in the 90s. The musical relations are many; in addition to the post-punk-mood, threads go out to Brazilian Tropicalia, Japanese psychedelia and Oslo’s improv scene, who most of the musicians on the record are a part of.
2. Urfuglen, Pt. 2