Over the last 10 years, Alog have navigated a singular path, treading with delicate precision between thickets of electronics and copses of environmental sound.The results are as fresh and quixotic as you might imagine: staccato, pointillist constructions like ”A Throne For The Common Man” positively thrum with energy as they shake and rattle along in a storm of percussive detail. Moments like these reach back through Tom Waits to Harry Partch, but the flickering, metallic accents of ”The Beginner” are closer to Steve Reich´s ”Drumming”; they conjure a cloud of harmonics shot through with quelrulous whines and whimpers. But in the end, ”Amateur” is simply too various to be summarised with a couple of neat comparisons. Towards its close, ”Bedlam Emblem” executes a graceful ten minute movement from Nordic windblasts through surging psychedelic distortion to whispery near silence; like the rest of the record, it´s immensely suggestive and almost impossible to pin down.
Here, Alog manage to construct remarkably beautiful music from the most peculiar timbres without resorting to conventional musicianship. What sounds like a variant of a marimba chimes in alongside harmonious, resonant string plucks while a percussion line sounding as if it was made from someone assembling flat-pack furniture hammers out some deep low-end warmth. It's a gorgeous piece of soundscaping. Elsewhere, 'A Book Of Lightning' is an exploration of bowed drones, 'Son Of King' is a kind of electronic Nordic sea chantey, and 'Bedlam Emblam' is a blustery noise din on a symphonic scale. Uncategorizable, truly wonderful stuff from start to finish, Amateur might just be Alog's finest album to date.
Norway’s Alog breathes life into experimental music on its fourth LP. Recorded at numerous music schools all over Norway, with instruments the duo has never before played, Amateur’s organic immediacy is completely engrossing
This album brings to mind a forest made out of household objects. Cheesegrater trees, leaves like smooth clogs, lakes of guitar strings, and a broken cymbal sun; an audible landscape. I can hear Alog running around tapping everything in sight, recording every slight sound up to the very edge of the forest until they stumble across a real tree. And then they tap that too. It reminds me of the designers Yokoland, who are also Norwegian and fond of planting vibrant forests. But this one here is small scale, inside a snow globe, where the snowflakes are little microchips, which fizzle on their tongues and makes their voices cling together in a booming chant that makes the plastic shell shiver. And when the snowflakes touch the edge of the water, the guitar strings bend apart and warp down the stream, emitting a drone that encompasses the entire miniature world. At which point all the captured, self-contained sounds of the forest are shaken out into a waiting palm: fragments of a fragile land.