Jul 18 2016
A Stein Urheim recording is like staring into the soul of a kaleidoscope or the dream imagery of the Aurora Borealis while it sleeps away the day. A one-man band of stringed instruments and harmonic devices, Urheim’s sonic manipulations are awash in striking, gorgeous details, and none of those details get lost in the shuffle or obscured from view as he lays it on thick. Strandebarm, his newest, might be the most beautiful thing he’s created yet.
Album opener “Water Part 1” immediately shows that the folk music influence will be prominent, but that’s just one element of songs that seem to be perpetually undergoing a dramatic transformation. At times, the wobbling melody of title-track “Strandebarm” is reminiscent of both mid-period Nordic Jazz and the drug-rock drone of the Spacemen 3-Spiritualized crossover projects. “Fjellbekken” goes from a thick ambient wash that dazzles like a sky full of stars to something more stark and pronounced before ending with a drone that swerves and dives and comes crashing down. Even the (relatively) straight-forward blues of “Berlin Blues” occasionally breaks into the hyperactive transformations one gets from turning the dial quickly across an expanse of radio stations.
A nice surprise is the addition of vocals on a couple tracks. “Water Part 2” and “Oh So Nice” utilize voice to add to the harmonic texture, and Urheim’s round sound brings some nifty contrast.
This album is about as beautiful as it gets.
Your album personnel: Stein Urheim (guitars, vocals, flutes, harmonica, slide tamboura, fretless bouzouki, turkish tanbur, mandolin, langeleik, banjo, loops and delay, pocket-cornet, percussion) and Jørgen Træen (modular synth, effects).
Released on Hubro Music.
Music from the Bergen, Norway scene.