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Sigbjørn Apeland: Glossolalia

 

HUBROCD2503
Released in Norway 07.02.2011

 

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“Glossolalia” is the first-ever solo album by the innovative musician Sigbjørn Apeland. – A courageous and challenging recording of improvised music for the Harmonium. Apeland is maybe best known for his work with Harding fiddler Nils økland, numerous Norwegian folk singers and electronica innovators Alog.
 
The term “glossolalia” comes from the Greek “glossa” meaning “tongue”, and “lalia”, meaning “to speak”. To speak in tongues is to talk in unintelligible sounds in a state of religious ecstasy. The title of the album is a play on the instruments association with low-church traditions, that the music “came to” Apeland in an inspired moment, and that the harmonium, unlike the church organ, has metal tongues instead of pipes.
 
Apeland describes the music on the album as his “attempt to create a form of ambient acoustic music.”

 
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Reviews:

  1. “A haunting ambient solo improvisation by a Norwegian harmonium player (know for his duos with fellow countryman/fiddler Nils Økland) who subtley constructs sound blocks from church and folk music traditions.”
    – Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise

  2. “Glossolalia (HUBRO CD2503) is harmonium player Sigbjørn Apeland‘s debut solo album, recorded for the relatively young Hubro imprint. It is a sombre, droning affair that hones in rather intimately on the harmonium, allowing ample airtime to the various incidental creaks and cranks that accompany playing any instrument that is in a state of disrepair. Instead of bringing the listener out of the experience, however, the imperfections lend the recordings a sense of honesty; this feels like an album that was recorded in a room with hardwood floors, with Apeland and the harmonium sharing the space alone. Compositionally, the tracks highlight the gentle, almost insidious nature of the instrument, with the tones often feebly aligning into chords; it’s only the deep low notes that convey any real sense of power, giving certain moments a considerably more meaty feel than others. This fluctuating pattern produce a record that ebbs and flows in terms of intensity; coupled with the innate sound of the harmonium, the album takes on a distinctly nautical sound. Tuneful yet freely flowing, Glossolalia reflects true affection for an instrument Apeland has been playing his whole life.”
    – The Sound Projector (UK)

  3. “The music developed through Apeland’s interplay with folk musicians, improvisers, and computer musicians and his own self-described attempt to create a form of “ambient acoustic music.” Such a description fails to capture how lovely the album’s five improvised settings are, however, and how powerfully emotional they can be too. Apeland wrings the most affecting degree of melancholy possible from the material, whether it be the wistful opener “Flyt,” brief coda “Lite,” or the mournful “Mildt,” a meditation that is at certain moments so lovely it verges on heartbreaking. Apeland also manages to push the material into other directions, too, such as when the ruminative approach he brings to “Bulder og lys” gives it the feel of an Indian raga”.
    - Textura.org

  4. “Never once, however, does the inherently „experimental“ nature of the work impinge on its emotional frankness: The twin aims of arriving at his own voice and striving for music „that has not been heard before“ are intricately related here(…) Goosebumps assured.”
    – Tokafi.com

  5. “In about thirty minutes Apeland plays some rather beautiful, solitary music on his harmonium. It could have easily lasted a bit longer, as far as I am concerned. Quite relaxing, early morning (sundays are preferred, and one can have their own religious tinkering at home) waking up music, or perhaps the last thing to play during the day. Excellent acoustic ambient indeed.”
    – Vital Weekly

  6. “Apeland’s improvisations utilize classical elements and motifs as well, which is not surprising when one considers that the harmonium was a legitimate keyboard instrument in the 19th century and a good many prominent composers wrote music for it. “Bulder og lys” is a particularly impressive and unusual piece, opening with a deep rumble in the lower register which exploits the size of the instrument relative to the smaller accordion. The effect is eerie and mysterious rather than celestial, with sonorities that sometimes resemble a tuba or bass trombone. The piece builds in intensity, and its minor key and minimalist trance style is worthy of Terry Riley. Apeland contends in his liner notes that the harmonium is “averse to all kinds of virtuosity,” but his playing is nonetheless quite impressive here. The next piece, “Mildt,” is equally mysterious and appealing. It uses a hypnotic, minimalist trill in the right hand as a motif, while the right hand improvises around it, tapering off once again with a very solemn bass ostinato rumble. The nature of these improvisations, together with the peculiar timbre of the harmonium, results in something quite original. This music on this CD has both radiance and power.”
    – William Tilland, Foxydigitalis.com, 8/10 (USA)

  7. “llemachtig, wat een intens dik half uur brengt de Sigbjørn Apeland tijdens deze ode aan het Noorse harmonium. Alle facetten van dit instrument, ook wel traporgel genoemd, laat de etnomusicoloog op integere en bekwame wijze horen. De combinatie van Noorse folk en kerkelijke muziek, geheel geïmproviseerd, bezorgt je vanaf de eerste seconde kippenvel die na de laatste noot nog een tijdje aanblijft.”
    – Volkskrant.nl 4/5

  8. “… Obwohl komplett improvisiert, lösen die fünf fließenden, atmosphärischen Stücke äußerst vielseitige und weitreichende Assoziationen aus, und diese CD bietet daher die perfekte Fortsetzung nach der großartigen Ole-Bull-Hommage »Lysøen« (ECM), die uns kürzlich verzauberte. Beiden Alben gelingt es leichtfüßig, schwebend, spielend, mit Reduktion und alten, aus der traditionellen Musik stammenden Instrumenten in der Musik der Gegenwart eindringliche Akzente zu setzen.”
    – Nordische Musik

  9. “Ambient lider ofte under en lidt for lækker og glat designerminimalisme uden nogen som helst form for modstand, men Apeland kan siges at have afhjulpet dette på genial vis med sin besynderlige, rustikke ambientmusik fuldt af knaster, hvæsen og tunge skygger. Som i andet ambient er det mere en rumlig end en tidslig musik, men det rum, den skaber om lytteren, er ikke lyst og luftigt, men mere som et gammelt og vindskævt hus, der knirker og knager, hvilket både har en utvivlsom charme og en snert af uhygge. Måske et bud på, hvordan Erik Saties proto-ambient musique d’ameublement ville have lydt, hvis det ikke var skabt til en fransk salon, men til en mørk nordisk bondestue. I hvert fald er Glossolalia et særegent værk, som på sin vis fungerer som ambient, samtidig med at det altså nærmest er en slags anti-ambient, hvis man i hvert fald forstår ambient som en mere eller mindre gnidningsfri musik. Det er også en musik, der lyder gammel og fortrolig uden alligevel rigtig at lyde som noget, man har hørt før.” – Rasmur Steffensen, Geiger.dk (DK)

  10. “Den amerikanske komponisten og filosofen John Cage hadde elsket dette. In a Landscape (BMG 1995) med Cages tidlige solo­stykker for ulike tangentinstrumenter kan faktisk stå som en referanse for Apelands utgivelse. I alle fall­: Jeg hadde tålt å ligge med hodet inni dette instrumentet lenger.”
    – Maja Ratkje, Morgenbladet(N)

  11. “På hans seneste plate møter vi ham mutters alene med harmoniumet. Og det er bra, for her er det ingen andre instrumenter eller stemmer som bryter inn og «ødelegger» den fine stemningen som Apeland bygger opp. Musikken er melankolsk, neddempet og helt i grenselandet til kirkemusikk. Den er meditativ, og kan i noen tilfeller minne om den argentinske bandoneonmesteren Dino Saluzzi i temperatur og lynne. Fem egne komposisjoner/improvisasjoner serveres, og det hele er usedvanlig vakkert gjennomført. Dette er musikk jeg vil høre en dag jeg trenger å slappe av, slukke lyset og bare nyte.”
    – jazznytt.no (N)

  12. “Det er forbausende hvordan dette instrumentet, med sine tekniske begrensninger, nærmest puster og elter frem et dynamisk sound der lyden fra utøverens fysiske anstrengelser spiller med. Grunntonen har noe lett bedrøvet ved seg. En vemodsvakker stemning og et finstemt alvor preger musikken som er såre enkel å synke ned i.”
    – Arild R. Andersen, Aftenposten(N)

  13. “Akustisk og flytende”
    – Truls Horvei, Haugesunds Avis, 5/6 (N)

  14. “Det er vakkert, skjørt, intimt og medrivande. Organisten, folkemusikaren og improvisatøren Apeland blir eit trehoda troll her. Tidvis er klangane instrumentert tynt og transparent som Messiaen, brått vert det frasert med ein ornamentikk som peikar til alle kvedarane artisten har samarbeida med. Den organiske forma og tematiseringa av instrumentet sitt lydlege indre peikar mot den eksperimentelle musikken. Apeland seier at han ynskjer å laga ein form for “akustisk instrumentell ambient”. Kanskje det. Sjølv høyrer eg mest av alt ein eminent musikar som disponerer, tyner, utnyttar og utfordrar instrumentet sitt med eit ypperleg resultat. ”
    – Bjørnar Habbestad (bergenbibliotek.no)