Boomkat Product Review:
This one's good - imagine Arve Henriksen jamming with Bohren, Broadcast and Lasse Marhaug. Dark, sure, but with a folkloric charm that's impossible to ignore.
Another low-lit, surrealist concoction from the Stroom camp, 'Walking in Circles' matches Norwegian experimental trumpet player Hilde Marie Holsen with Belgian vocalist Lynn Cassiers, who rupture distant lounge jazz with dizzy psychedelic textures and hiccuping experimental sonics. The duo initially came together in Dublin for a "Match&Fuse" event where they represented their respective countries and worked together for five days in 2017. And despite having well-developed solo practices they found a way to improvise together so harmonically that a successful performance led to an ongoing project that continued in Oslo a year later. "Walking in Circles" is the duo's first recorded material and showcases the sound they've now spent a few years sculpting; if you've heard either artist's solo albums (like Holsen's brilliant "Lazuli" or Cassiers' smokey "Nacht Slakje") you'll be able to guess the general direction, but their collaborative sound is deeper and dreamier than anything they've produced on their own.
'Today's Bright' sets the tone, making a bed of brassy, dissonant drones and wormy electronics before Cassiers' voice rings out with the clear, expressive emotionality of Julee Cruise and the unfussy nonchalance of Jenny Hval. Both experienced improvisers, neither Holsen or Cassiers appear to be particularly motivated by songwriting as such. Fragments of songs appear for a moment, and are chopped into by serrated electronics or washed into spiraling echoes. On 'Opening' Holsen's trumpet sounds as if it's slowly sinking into quicksand, swirling from jazz into roughshod ambience before being nudged into half-speed, and on the lengthy 'Some say', Cassiers' voice rises again this time wordlessly, whispering faint vowels as Holsen drives café smoke into the Parisian catacombs. It's not all mood music either, 'Life stages are' is chaotic and brash, packed with harsh sound design, piercing feedback and screamed vocals.
But Holsen and Cassiers' material works best when its at its most liminal - slow-paced finale 'Walking in circles' is the album's most dreamy moment, and feels like hearing a radio transmission of the earlier tracks pitched down to a screwed crawl. Disquieting but strangely alluring, it's a finale that works like a breathing exercise, relaxing the body before you fall into a deep sleep.