Boomkat Product Review:
One of those records that’s been steadily creeping up on us to a point of near obsession, Norwegian sax virtuoso Bendik Giske’s new album is a proper slow burn, building sound-whirls that tick all the usual contemporary sax reference points - Colin Stetson, Alex Zhang Hungtai’s Love Theme - but dripping with a kind of humid intensity that’s unlike anything we’ve heard before.
Built as an exploration of the studio-as-an-instrument, there’s a pure physicality to these recordings that blurs the lines between Giske’s playing and the deft touch of producer André Bratten. A technically demanding process, Giske builds sax phrases that feel as if they're looping - even when they're not - augmenting sounds with extraordinarily subtle electronic treatments that offer a humanist synthesis of the organic and digital worlds.
On an album best enjoyed as a single playthru, ‘Cruising’ is perhaps it's most hypnotic centrepiece. Starting out as a sort of Lynchian study of circular breathing, it almost imperceptibly intensifies over the course of 10 minutes to loop out of phase until we’re stranded in a thick cloud of narcotic smoke, with stray shimmers of saxophone glistening through the fog. It’s unspeakably charged, electric music - quite honestly worth the cost of admission alone.
The title track goes deeper still, like some 100000% slowed down torch song blurred to the point of total smudge, with what were once wind instruments replaced by floating vocal layers, like Grouper’s 'Way Their Crept' transported from a barren forest to the heart of the city on an airless night.
Album closer 'Matter (part 3)’ is also its most skeletal, Bratten’s mixing desk here left largely untouched for a pure rendering of Giske’s visceral playing, deployed like some post-exorcism ritual, banishing and purifying the air as a sort of angular coda to all that came before it. It’s a startling end to a wondrous, multi-faceted album, one that greatly rewards with each repeat listen. Our recommendation - spend some time with it, it’s an astonishing piece of work.