Boomkat Product Review:
Busy blasts of theatrical prog metal by the prolific studio demon JG Thirlwell and Swedish multi-instrumentalist Simon Steenland
“I first met Simon Steensland in Stockholm in 2017. I was invited there to workshop and perform a commission for the ensemble Great Learning Orchestra. Great Learning Orchestra are a collective that operate after the model of Cornelius Cardew’s Scratch Orchestra, using musicians of a variety of backgrounds and abilities.
Steensland happened to be playing fretless six string sub-bass in this iteration of the ensemble.
I had been a fan of Steensland’s work for some years through his albums like Led Circus and Fat Again.I admired the dark power in his work and it seemed adjacent to a lot of music that I love and inspires me - groups in the Rock in Opposition and Zeuhl worlds such as Magma, Univers Zero and Present, as well as 70’s era King Crimson and Bartok.
Steensland liked what I had written for Great Learning Orchestra and wanted to do a cover version of one of the movements. I sent him the score and the results were remarkable. He didn’t know what to do with the track, so I proposed that we make a collaboration album to extend the work.
We sent tracks back and forth. I would start one and send it to him; he would overdub parts and send it back, and I would do the same. Sometimes extending sections or adding new sections. Steensland then got the extraordinary drummer Morgan Ågren to play on all the tracks, which brought them alive in an explosive manner. We also added overdubs from a variety of guest musicians on oboe, bass clarinet, violin, voice and so on.
After pre-mixing at my studio in Brooklyn, I did the final mixes at Gary’s Electric Studio B with Al Carlson, with whom I had worked on the Zola Jesus and Xordox albums. The result is Oscillospira.”