Splashgirl – Hibernation


Splashgirl are described in their publicity as a “doom jazz trio” which only takes us so far in understanding where they are coming from. While it might have been an accurate description of their earlier albums by the time this, their fifth, slots into the CD player, they have expanded considerably, stretching out not only with more electronics, and earlier and deeper involvement with their technician and producer but also by inviting in a guest musician.

Splashgirl’s line-up is Andreas Stensland Løwe who plays piano, pump organ, synths, clavinet and also uses electronics; Jo Berger Myhre on double bass, Halldorophone and synths; and Andreas Lønmo Knudsrød on drums, percussion and drum machines. Randall Dunn is the producer and the guest musician is Skerik, on saxophones and electronics.

The title track opener is a simple set of piano chords given depth and a certain strangeness by the electronic aura that emanates from behind them and reverberates gently into the distance. Community has a vaguely Latin feel both to the melody line and the rhythm that surrounds it – but it’s also more abstract and fragmented.

Rounds begins with drums and a sonic hum before a slow piano and bass melody of simple effectiveness walks steadily against a synth pad background. Slowly it is ornamented with other swirling synth sounds and a catchy, rhythmic figure soon joins in the amble. The drums drop away and everything begins to slide down in a slow spiral to silence. It’s a little gem.

Scorch is a vast skree-cluttered glacier of deeply atmospheric sounds, whether repeated piano chords, rippling tiny bells or passing clouds of synths.

Hibernation is Splashgirl’s best yet on the label that refuses to disappoint. It’s also the 573rd example of how Norwegian musicians seem to find the seams of musical gold in the borderlands between genres that have until now remained undiscovered.

Strongly recommended.

Categories: CD review

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