There´s warmth and clarity to these tracks, Strønen´s restrained use of effects adding colour at crucial moments. His use of delay is excellent, deploying repeat echoes to build structures rather than construct impressive but artificial sonic spaces. Immaculately produced, with each percussive hit and textural fleck seeming to exist in a sonic environment all its own, the album has a sensuality and spaciousness that is utterly irresistible.
Here, Strønen leaves behind his instrument of predilection, the drums, to investigate a far wider range of percussive sounds and develop a series of intricate compositions with clear emphasis on the musical aspect of his work. If the setting of this album is resolutely experimental and feeds on Strønen's background in improvised work, the result is a fascinating, and surprisingly accessible, collection of compositions which evokes in turn traditional oriental Gamelan music, which serves as basis for this album, African percussions, and the work of Pierre Bastien or that of Steve Reich. Strønen works at microscopic level, conscious of capturing the smallest particles of sound and use them to make the silences in between notes resound as loud as the notes themselves. Although the pace slows down slightly on ”E… Quilibrium” and ”Mutti”, there is no respite as such to be found anywhere. Strønen creates a radical sweeping soundtrack that appears at once terribly compact and dense and incredibly vast and sparse. Elements of electro-acoustic regularly collide with frenetic sonic sentences to generate subtle emotional moments. ”Pohlitz” is at once intense and fragile, and has so much to offer that it is difficult to appreciate the full extend of Thomas Strønen's work, however this is undeniably the charm of this record, as it appears almost entirely new, yet so utterly familiar, even after repeated listen. 4.8/5. Album of the month.
As a member of Strønen and Storløkken (who dropped the fantastic Humcrush album in 2004) and a member of Food (with Arve Henriksen) he has a great deal of promise to live up to and this record does not disappoint in any way. This has gamelan instruments used in a way totally unfamiliar to my ears, being hit with millisecond precision and recorded beautifully to capture all the odd resonances and deep bass tones of the pots, bells and barrels. This is not an easy album to get into, there are no `big tracks' or explosions of style, yet every moment captures a beautiful original landscape and is guaranteed to sound unlike anything you have every heard previously. This is the beginning of what is going to be a stunning year for Rune Grammofon, and Pohlitz is only the first of their essential releases.
The result is fascinating, like short stories told in an alien sounding, yet easy to understand language. A refreshingly unceremonious round in a musical landscape where pretentiousness often is an annoying guest. 5/6.
Bjork's “Headphones” is evoked, and indeed, headphones is where this record really works its magic. Other influences can be discerned, the minimal compositions of Steve Reich and Michael Nyman haunt proceedings, but also the strange percussive rhythms and clanging gongs of Gamelan. Yet overall there's a playfulness at work which makes the listening experience less po-faced and more open-mouthed. This is not an album for parties, make no mistake, but neither is it impenetrable. In fact, it is difficult not to be mesmerised by the sheer difference and remote, yet warm atmosphere Strønen creates. The key is his focus on the dichotomies in the music, the disparate threads of jazz and electronics, light and dark, icy and temperate woven together to create something that really doesn't sound like anything else, even his Rune Grammofon label mates. A dispatch from far within the void.
There's considerable use of electronics, but the electronic aspect never dominates; some amazing grooves are constructed, but there's usually melody amid the rhythm. This is not what most people would think of as an electronic album, dance or otherwise, but in many ways loops and ambient techno have prepared listeners to deal with music like Strønen's. Then again, the track “Interacting Massive Particles” recalls parts of Morton Subotnik's classic ”Silver Apples of the Moon”, which certainly influenced the more intellectual end of the techno spectrum. It's impossible to listen to the vast array of clinking, clattering, shimmering, mostly metallic timbres (using no actual drums) that Strønen deploys without thinking of gamelan music, especially given the ecstatic momentum Strønen's grooves achieve. To a degree one also is reminded of Steve Reich's brand of minimalism, especially in its period of sparse instrumentation (when Reich was influenced by world music, including gamelan), but Strønen's pieces evolve more quickly and sometimes include the improvised bits that a solo performer can throw in, though most of these pieces seem composed in advance. In fact, if these pieces were orchestrated, they'd be just as good. I don't know where I'm going to file this album in my collection, but I'm sure glad to have it.
Entstanden ist dabei ein herrlich direktes und unaffektiertes Album, das sich weder auf Overdubs noch auf nachträgliches Editing stützen muss. Der “Liveaspekt" steht bei Stronen zweifellos im Vordergrund. Damit kommt er in gewisser Weise einer Abstraktion von House-Musik nahe, die sich selten so interessant und feinfühlig angehört hat. Hier möchte man gerne mehr. 8/10. Album of The Week.
With ”Pohlitz” Strønen is building musical bridges from a place where minimalism, Arne Nordheim, Steve Reich and traditional music live together to a land where one is dancing to slightly absurd minimal grooves at the river´s edge. Strønen is turning music that for many is difficult into something accessible. At the same time I want to express a big thank you to uncle Rune Grammofon for letting his jazz cousins play with free reins, an open gate and a sandbox filled with creativity and innovation.
The Food drummer's solo debut finds him swirling dubwise diffusion into a batter no less billowy for its standard-issue bells, blocks, drums, and the like, all played in real time and gently enhanced by well-tempered electronics. Marimba-driven opener "Heterogenous Substances" softens Reichian single-mindedness with discrete delay and the occasional nod to zero. "Ingenious Pursuits" evokes Partch himself, if the inventor had made two-fisted IDM. While both have plenty of yeast, Strønen's dough first rises properly on "Dispatches." Imagine Kraftwerk's gamelan doppelgängers positing a balance of melody and funk that's robotic without being mechanical, dark, rich, and thoroughly through-composed, with dynamics that recall Max Roach at his most nuanced. Antelopes, jellyfish, pieces of dead skin: All would look magnificent dancing to this track. They'd feel great, too, once they got over the shock of hearing electronica that was mostly acoustic.
I must admit, I am rather impressed by this. His music is true cross-over of improvised music, electronic music and composed music, but played with sheer elegance. The sampled elements provide a nice, relaxed bed for the percussion to sleep in. Minimal in it's playing, a bit Steve Reich like, but more smeared out, a bit more empty, but always with a slow building of the pieces, by slowly adding elements, real time percussion and sampled elements thereof. In 'Natural History Of Creation' Strønen reaches for a Gamelan sound, with a similar hypnotic feel to it. Quite an amazing debut.
Much in this manner, the staccato chatter of the grainy perturbed textures of "Ingenious Pursuits" stand in fine contrast to the Eastern rhythms that imbue the piece with a strong bodily appeal. Over the album's playing time of just under 40 minutes, the narrow sound sources sometimes get the better of Stronen. But for all that, this first full-length solo effort houses numerous detailed, boldly configured compositions.