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Erland Dahlen: Rolling Bomber

 

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Rolling Bomber is the solo debut of one of our favourite musicians: drummer Erland Dahlen. He has played on over 130 records since the mid-1990s, and has toured with an impressive list of top-ranking artists in a variety of genres: Kiruna, Mike Patton/Kaada, Ingrid Olava, Eivind Aarset Sonic Codex Orchestra, Mathias Eick, Serena Maneesh, Arve Henriksen, Hanne Hukkelberg and Marit Larsen, to name just a few. He is probably best known as the drummer in the successful band Madrugada for the last years of the band’s life, and as the drummer in Nils Petter Molvær’s explosive new trio.
 
The idea of doing a solo project had to mature for ten years before Erland finally went into the studio for three days in February and April 2011. The album is named after the special drum set Erland plays on the album, a Slingerland Rolling Bomber kit from World War II, which he bought from free-jazz drummer and collector Roger Turner. The mechanical parts of this set are made of rosewood, as the arms industry appropriated all available metal during the war. “When a drum has so much wood in it, it gets a very warm sound, which appeals to me a lot,” says Erland.
 
In addition, he uses an instrumentarium consisting of a variety of percussion instruments, electronic instruments and specially constructed instruments. Erland has played the saw for many years, and the saw is an important melodic instrument on the Rolling Bomber.
 
The album has a playful, richly visual mood, but is also quite dark and menacing in places. Elements of krautrock, drone music, ambient music and contemporary music are woven together with rock-inspired energy. Erland produced the record himself along with Jens Petter Nilsen and Hallvard W. Hagen, who form the electronica duo Xploding Plastix. Erland has worked with them for nine years. The dark second cut on the album, “Funeral”, is a remix by Hallvard W. Hagen.
 
The album was recorded in an abandoned coffee factory that Erland rents in central Oslo. It was mixed by Jens Petter Nilsen at tinfoilaudio and mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab.
 
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Reviews:

  1. “Seven tracks of crepuscular intensity that combine a love for complex but driving rhythms and the free structure and experimentation for which Norwegian jazz is known. Flower Power sounds like a music box malfunctioning as it falls down a grand but squeaky wooden staircase – a recommendation, as it happens – and Monkey could be a Lalo Schifrin soundtrack stripped of all but its percussion and sound effects. Piratman, full of cymbal splashes and eerie sounds, is particularly effective, a distant cousin of Moon Over Morphosa, the 2004 collaboration between sometime Stooges drummer Toby Dammit and Bad Seeds drummer Thomas Wydler. Overall, it’s confusing, sometimes creepy, with anthems entirely absent, but it’s also an enlightening reminder of how versatile a simple drum kit can be.”
    – Wyndham Wallace, BBC online (UK)

  2. “A unique and fascinating record that exudes warmth and chills in equal measure, full of interesting textures and haunting melodies.”
    – Ross Baker, Musique Machine, 4/5 (UK)

  3. “Dahlen unites an ethereal yet vibrant setting with unconventional designs. He paints a flourishing picture, embellished by an abundance of enchanting frameworks and opaque vistas that, for the most part, defy categorization.”
    – Glenn Astarita, Allaboutjazz.com (USA)

  4. “It’s a little hard to believe that Rolling Bomber is Erland Dahlen’s first solo album. You can hear his work across a number of releases; most notably the recent Nils Petter Molvaer album and in Eivind Aarset Sonic Codex Orchestra. Dahlen has a rich and vivid quality to his playing and his compositions on his Rolling Bomber are just as diverse and spirited. (…)I’ve been addicted to this album for a couple of weeks now and combining a listen of Nils Petter Molvaer’s Baboon Moon and Rolling Bomber, you have a deep lesson in one of the more undiscovered drummer/composer of the next generation.”
    – Stephan Moore, Jazzwrap (USA)

  5. “Via the clever use of electronics and singing saw, Rolling Bomber can be seen as more than a percussion record. Melody and drone play a significant role in each piece, lending a sense of personality to the music. Dahlen is a key figure in the Norwegian music scene and Rolling Bomber is the perfect showcase of his percussive and melodic talents.”
    – Bryon Hayes, Exclaim.ca (CA)

  6. “Rolling Bomber is as varied and open as Dahlen’s career, taking from rock, ambient, drone or avant-jazz and. As he expertly blends them together, he defines areas of various intensity which range from haunting (Funeral, a piece remixed by Hagen), brooding (Dragon) or sombre (Pyramid) to poetic and dreamy (Flower Power), hectic (Monkey) and hypnotic (Piratman, Germany). The scope of this record is matched by its textural richness. Drums, expectedly occupy an important place throughout, but the assortment of bells and percussions used here renders these pieces in a variety of tones, at times evoking spellbinding gamelan rhythms, at others the motorik drive of Krautrock. Dahlen’s use of the musical saw, an instrument which has been part of his range for years, on Flower Power and Germany, adds an eerie touch to the record, while Funeral, with its deep rumbling or grinding noises and sparse electronic touches, is by far the most atmospheric piece on here. Rolling Bomber exists in a world of its own, without clear influences or roots, yet Erland Dahlen creates a rather impressive and consistent soundtrack as he finely balances his pieces between sheer energy and more delicate moments.”
    – TheMilkFactory.co.uk, 4.2/5 (UK)

  7. “In terms of influence, it’s a bit of a struggle to come up with anything coherent. There’s the distant ghost of Peter Erskine perhaps, but probably mostly through the choice of kit more than anything else; the aforementioned Steve Reich and some vague nods towards some of the more fractured kosmische bands of the early ‘70s; Jon Mueller’s mantric workouts also come to mind, some of the squelchier moments of Supersilent… On the whole though Rolling Bomber feels pretty sui generis, and it’s a triumph of minimalism and atmosphere that emphatically achieves the task of leaving the listener wanting more. It’s also another triumph for the Hubro label which has provided a number of intriguing releases in its short life span. It’s also evidence that Dahlen has a good deal more to give. We await.”
    – TheLiminal (UK)

  8. “Prolific drummer Erland Dahlen’s Rolling Bomber is probably jazz, but this crazy ride (titled after his ancient Slingerland kit) breaches musical boundaries to fly through Krautrock, techno, ambient and all-out noise.”
    – Kieron Tyler, TheArtsDesk (UK)

  9. “Dahlen drums up music which is by turns affecting, richly cinematic, and charged with motorik intensity.”
    – Dalstonsound (UK)

  10. “Der Norweger Erland Dahlen ist Drummer. Ein sehr bekannter Schlagwerker, der auf mindestens 130 Platten zu hören ist, zuletzt auf der neuen CD von Nils Petter Molvær. Jetzt traut er sich an ein Soloprojekt heran, “Rolling Bomber”. Der Name verweist auf ein spezielles Arbeitsgerät namens Slingerland Rolling Bomber aus der Zeit des Zweiten Weltkriegs, eingefasst in Rosenholz. Dazu Dahlen: “Wenn ein Schlagzeug so viel Holz in sich hat, generiert es einen sehr warmen Klang, was mir sehr gefällt.” Doch dieses Unikum füllt die Aufnahmen nur zum Teil, darum herum rankt sich eine Klangvielfalt aus elektronischen, perkussiven und speziell konstruierten Instrumenten. Manchmal wähnt man sich in einem buddhistischen Tempel und hört Töne, die aus weiter Ferne zu kommen scheinen, und manchmal überwältigt einen flächiger Klangbombast. Man muss sich nur darauf einlassen.”
    – Martin Woltersdorf, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (DE)

  11. “…Mit “Rolling Bomber” liefert er ein Solo-Werk ab, das weit über ein Schlagzeug-Album hinausgeht. Dahlen begibt sich auf das weite Feld der improvisierten Musik, die sich aus vielen Einflüssen nährt – von elektronischen Klängen über Ambient- und Rock-Anleihen bis hin zum Jazz. Das perkussive Zentrum ist ein Drum-Set aus den 1940er-Jahren, dessen mechanischen Teile aus Rosenholz gefertigt sind. Den daraus resultierenden weichen Sound nutzt Dahlen, um eine meditativ fließende Musik zu kreieren, Grooves zu verstetigen und wieder aufzulösen, rhythmische Muster zu modulieren und mit einem Arsenal von Schlagwerken elektronische Verfremdungen aufzubrechen und einen Klangkosmos zu schaffen, der dieses Album zu einer genauso herausfordernden wie entspannenden Hörererfahrung macht.”
    – JAZZthing (DE)

  12. “Wie nennt man eine CD, auf der nicht ein Musiker, sondern ein konkretes Instrument die Hauptrolle spielt? Erland Dahlen definiert mit seiner neuen CD den Solobegriff in dieser Richtung neu. Der norwegische ”Trommeslager” erkundet in den sieben Stücken ein ganz besonderes Schlagzeug-Kit, ein ”Rolling Thunder” der Firma Slingerland aus der Zeit des Zweiten Weltkriegs. Der Krieg verknappte den Rohstoff Metall, sodass hier für alle mechanischen Teile Rosenholz verwendet wurde. Dahlen baut aus den warmen Tönen dieser historischen Apparatur sensible Patterns und Grooves und schmückt diese mit modernen Tönen von allerlei Beiwerk. Es sind Schwingungen – von Saiten, Fellen und elektronischen Schaltkreisen – die von perkussiven Rhythmen übernommen werden. Selten türmen sich die verworrenen Muster und Stimmungen zu einem deutlichen Höhepunkt auf. Vielmehr sind sie oft plötzlich da und man nimmt sie erst richtig wahr, wenn sie schon wieder verklungen sind – wie ein fernes Donnergrollen, dessen Echo eine Zeit nachhallt.”
    – Jazz´n´More 5/5 (DE)

  13. “Norwegen ist eine schier unerschöpfliche Brutstätte für experimentell veranlagte, creative Projekte. Gerade das Hubro-Label ist ein hervorragendes Sammelbecken für ebendiese. Glow/Sacred Harp/Highasakite-Musiker Øystein Skar (Synthesizer) hat sich mit Gitarrist, Bassist und Effektelieferant Stephan Meidell (Krachmacher, Vanilla Riot, The Sweetest Thrill) und Drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad (Hedvig Mollestad Trio und viel mehr) zusammengetan, um einen nervösen, lebhaften, improvisationsschwangeren, dreiäugigen Bastard aus Altindustrial, Noise Rock, Brian Eno, Experimental-Bowie, Krautrock, Drone, Free Jazz, Psychedelic und gar Ambient zum Leben zu erwecken, der sämtliche Konventionen und Schemata geordneten Musizierens in seinem Schlund verschwinden lässt und mit dem Verdauungsresultat zeigt, was er von auf Konsumierbarkeit getrimmtem Klanggut hält. Flatsch, stink, dampf. Nur: Der Haufen Scheiß ist ein ziemlich heißer.”
    – NoisyNeighbours, 13/15 (DE)

  14. “At skulle udsættes for et helt album med en feteret trommeslager, der kører sololøb på sådan et udbud af vintage trommer, rariteter og hjemmebaksede instrumenter lyder muligvis som lidt af et mareridt. Eller i det mindste som en ørkenvandring i instrumentfetichisme. Men der er tværtimod tale om et dybt originalt værk, der undgår alle potentielle faldgruber til fordel for en lysende musikalitet og opfindsomhed, der aldrig bliver til lir.(…) Rolling Bomber er et gennemført værk og en begivenhed i ny nordisk musik. Samtidig viser pladeselskabet Hubro atter, at de er et af de absolut mest interessante i Skandinavien lige nu.”
    – Rasmus Steffensen, Geiger.dk (DK)

  15. “Slowly I am getting more and more enthusiastic about the releases on Norway’s Hubro. Always from the world of improvised music, but then always with a nice angle. (…)One has the impression of listening to a record of percussion sounds plus a lot of other things and not just a percussion record. The bows and electronics add nice small melodic interjections to the music. These seven pieces show an interesting variety in approaches. ‘Funeral’ is like an ambient piece, ‘Piratmen’ starts out ethnic but becomes ambient also, while the closing ‘Germany’ is an excellent Krautrock stampede (hence the title I’d say), including what seems a theremin, although none is listed. In other pieces he is more traditionally improvised or leans towards modern composition. A great CD, not too long, not too short. Spot on.”
    – Frans deWard, Vital Weekly (NL)

  16. “Overrumplende melodiøs, og til en vital og kaleidoskopisk trip med rik og usedvanlig tiltalende klangfargepalett. Albumet viser også Dahlen som en komponist/lydskulptør som en hver filmmaker i dette landet burde gi en grundig lytt, for til tider utløser denne musikken en «soundtrack»-følelse så sterk at bildesekvenser tar form i et lytterhode.”
    – Terje Mosnes, Dagbladet 5/6 (N)

  17. “Erland Dahlen bretter ut et vidstrakt, musikalsk prosjekt. Nå hører jeg allerede noen si at “mener denne anmelderen virkelig at trommelsagere ikke driver med musikk”? Nei, han mener ikke det. Han mener bare at det forskjell på å slå trommer i et band, og det i praksis å drive sitt eget orkester. Om Dahlen skulle fremført dette live, ville det verket selvfølgelig krevd en hel drøss musikere på scenen. Sitt eget orkester? Ja – og Erland Dahlen gjør det altså ved hjelp av alle disse slaginstrumentene, og det låter fantastisk. Fantastisk fint, og fantastisk spennende – men også mer bokstavelig ment, i betydninga fantastisk: Dett er sci-fi musikk! Albumet fordrer ikke at det avspilles på ekstremt høyt volum, men det hjelper veldig om du har god bass i anlegget ditt. For dette er tungt, i alle postivie betydninger av ordet. Heavy jazz.”
    – Arild Rønsen, Jazznytt (NO)

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