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Splashgirl: Pressure

 

HUBROCD2509
Norwegian release: April 2011
 
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We regard Splashgirl as one of the most exciting young instrumental bands to come out of Norway in the past few years. With Pressure, its third album and certainly their strongest to date, the band is taking yet another giant step forward. Here the musicians are opening the doors to several new musical rooms – to the dark, dank cellar as well as to the attic – where all their forgotten memories are stored away.

Splashgirls’ second album, Arbor, was Hubro’s very first release in 2009. The group’s course of development from its 2007 debut, Doors. Keys (AIM), in which the inspiration it derived from Paul Bley’s jazz piano recordings was obvious, to the more genre-defying, low-key band collective on Arbor, was enormous.

The band’s foundation remains acoustic: piano – Andreas Stensland Løwe (Thelma & Clyde, Lama, Jæ), double bass – Jo Berger Myhre (Ingrid Olava, Solveig Slettahjell) and drums – Andreas Lønmo Knudsrød (Sacred Harp, Lama). But as on Arbor, the members of the trio also work with some simple analogue electronics.

This time they can also present some outstanding guest appearances by guitarist Juhani Silvola (Sacred Harp), vocalist Mari Kvien Brunvoll, tuba player Martin Taxt (Jæ, Hanne Hukkelberg), trombonist Erik Johannesen (Jaga Jazzist) and Lasse Passage with field recordings and tape feedback.

The musical dynamics on Pressure have a broad scope. Modest and lyrical. Ranging from gloomy prophecies of doom that flow onwards like hot tar to the ethereal, minimalist-inspired song “Concerning This Square”. The opening track, “Devata”, would have been perfect as film music for a Western filmed in the Antarctic. In any case, what is most striking this time is the enormous sense of concentration and the impressive focus on subtle details that are an integral part of Splashgirls’ music.

The album was recorded by Alex Kloster-Jensen at Malabar Studio in Oslo, and was mixed by Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), Jesse Sykes) at Aleph Studios, Seattle.
 
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Reviews:

  1. “Pioneering third from Norwegian jazz trio (…) The slow torrid build of “The Other Side” recalls Goodspeed You! Black Emperor´s fraught majesty, while other tracks hint at Gastr Del Sol´s oblique songcraft. A masterclass in spatial awareness, dynamics and emotion.”
    – Uncut 4/5

  2. “A triumphant artistic exercise (…) By the time the epic closing title-track’s screeching cymbal scrapes, inner piano string whines and wheezing bass strings finally coalesce into Løwe’s cathartic, lush, chugging piano riff, does the massive musical tension evaporate. It’s then you realise just how deep Splashgirl have drawn you into the murky depths of their watery sound world.”
    – Jazzwise, UK – Mike Flynn

  3. “This radiant album from Norwegian piano trio Splashgirl is unlike anything that came before it(…) Certainly, nothing quite like it has come out of central Europe or the US. An approximate comparative starting point would be the work of Australian trio The Necks, with which Splashgirl shares a fondness for quietness, pretty tunes, gently mesmerizing grooves and trippy electronic manipulation. But there is none of The Necks’ embrace of stasis, and considerably more throbbing red blood running through Pressure’s veins, an engaging passion even at the quietest moments, which during the second half of the disc builds to sustained passages of high temperature, funked-up intensity. (…) Deeply spiritualized and altogether irresistible. As the Arctic ice cap retreats, Nordic jazz takes another step forward.”
    – Allaboutjazz.com

  4. “Some might call Splashgirl gloomy, the sound of hot tar melting, prophecies of doom, no, this is vibrant, this is alive – sure, they’re very very slow, but each note breathes, each musical step so considered, so positive, so bright and vibrantly alive, so good to just flow with, to sit in the sun with (though we do suspect it would sound just as good in a cold dark dank December cellar). (…) Jazz based, post-rock toned, experimental, but really this is a genre-defying album, and Splashgirl are something that everyone should hear and something everyone would surely enjoy.”
    – Organ (UK)

  5. “The album is characterised by its gracefulness, its music instilled with the iridescence and resilience of mother of pearl. “Pressure” seems set to outclass most other albums in any genre this year.”
    – TheJazzMann.com, 4.5/5 (UK)

  6. “Pressure is a much more contrasted record than its predecessor, one that never quite settles where expected. The music may at first appear gentle and peaceful with Splashgirl, but below the surface lie more rugged landscapes, yet it can take time to reveal them in their entirety. Pressure doesn’t brag loudly about its credentials, but it is a quietly confident opus by a trio who are rapidly gaining confidence.”
    – TheMilkFactory, 4.2/5 (UK)

  7. “The third album from the Norwegian trio of Andreas Stensland Lowe, Jo Berger Myhre and Andreas Lonmo Knudsrod is an intriguing and absorbing exploration of sound and mood(…) The tempi are slow, the moods quiet but with an industrial and slightly menacing low drone to them at times. What is most striking is how sustained and controlled these pieces are, suggesting a trio of exceptional mutual understanding and shared vision. One suggestion was that their music sounded like the soundtrack for a Western filmed in the Arctic. That kind of conveys the mix of cool and intrigue at its heart.”
    – TheJazzBreakfast.com

  8. “Given the world is full of tasteful mid-tempo outfits in the jazz world these days, it takes a special confidence to break with the ECM, post-EST consensus that dominates the tone, if not always the substance, of the piano trio genre. The sounds pursued on the third album by this Norwegian trio here is a kind of liminal, approximate jazz that shares some of the vocabulary but which appears to have more in common with the same sense of poise and timelessness that graces Talk Talk’s Spirit Of Eden.”
    – Sid Smith’s Postcards From The Yellow Room

  9. “Melancholic music, with bits of slide guitar here and there, evoking a western, desolated soundtrack style. Mostly introvert, Spl ashgirl never leaps out, but can rise high with ‘The Other Side’, with its fine soaring trombone and post rock climax. Nicely long tracks with room for each one to develop and spacious playing. Maybe its partly improvised, come to think of it, or maybe its jazzy come to think of it… god, I don’t know really. What I do know is that I very much enjoyed the mood and textures played by this instrumental rock band. Very refined.”
    – Vital Weekly (NL)

  10. “Splashgirl aus Norwegen beeindrucken. Benutzen Zeit, um sich Zeit zu lassen. Schleichen sich in Deinen Kopf. Sind dennoch schneller als Bohren & Der Club of Gore. Aber man kann sie schon in die doomy Jazz- und David-Lynch-Ecke packen. Minimalismus trifft Gitarre und vor allem instrumentale Stimmung eines ganz weit Draußenseins. Dazu tragen Field Recordings und Tape Feedback sicherlich bei. Die Songs wurden in Oslo produziert und dann in Seattle von Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O)))) gemischt, was man ganz deutlich hört. Splashgirl checken den Hall, lassen Geräuschen ihre Geschichte und könnten dennoch den Sound irgendeiner verlassenen Hotelbar problemlos aus dem Ärmel schütteln.”
    – de:Bug (DE)

  11. “Leider gibt es keine Rating-Agentur für U-Musik. Und in Ermangelung dieser Einrichtung vergeben wir jetzt einfach mal für das Land Norwegen ein Triple-A. Musik aus Oslo und (weiterer) Umgebung steht nämlich nicht nur bei Jazz-, sondern auch bei Elektronika-Freunden hoch im Kurs. Gutes Beispiel: Splashgirl. Seltsamer Name für eine seriöse Band, aber getränkt mit Qualität. Das dritte Album des Trios „Pressure” ist aus der Dunkelheit geboren und vorwiegend analog erzeugt. Die Band arbeitet mit Piano, Synthesizern, Elektronics (Andreas Stensland Løwe), Bass, Drone Commander (Jo Berger Myhre) und Drums/Perkussion (Andreas Lønmo Knudsrød). Gastinstrumente: Gitarre, Posaune und Tuba, ergänzt durch Field Recordings und Gesang auf einem Track. „Pressure” ist eine düstere, aber dennoch depressionsfreie CD. Sieben Slow-Motion-Tracks, eine etwas üppigere Erweiterung des Spektrums von Bohren und der Club of Gore aus Mülheim an der Ruhr. Entschleunigung im Direktverfahren – introvertiert, zuweilen verstörend, zum Teil ergreifend, streckenweise sehr warm. Dann aber auch wieder skandinavisch kühl. Splashgirl agieren mit Overdubs, die aber das Hauptstandbein, die fein gewobene Pianoarbeit, niemals aus der Balance bringen. Nachtmusik in bester Nordmann-Tradition.”
    – Sound&Image (DE)

  12. “… Dass diese Musik schwer zu kategorisieren ist, wird kaum einer bestreiten. Und darin liegt sicher ein wesentlicher Zauber und der Anreiz, diese Platte immer wieder aufzulegen und immer besser immer wieder von neuem kennenzulernen. Dass die zahlreichen Assoziationen und Einflüsse nie der Fantasie und Spiellaune der Musiker im Wege stehen, ist dabei absolut bemerkenswert. Damit keine Missverständnisse aufkommen: »Pressure« hat trotz der Intelligenz und Kenntisse der Mitwirkenden nichts Akademisches, sondern ist eine höchst emotionale und – sowohl in Stille wie in mitreißende Angelegenheit. ”
    – Nordische Musik

  13. “Splashgirl har odlat sin särart på sammanlagt tre skivor. På den första låg de närmare en tydligare formulerad jazz, medan de på den andra, “Arbor”, började söka sig mot utkanterna av musiken, mot minimalismen, mot konstmusiken och, ja, mot postrocken. På “Pressure” tar de det hela ett steg längre och skapar ingenting mindre än ett mästerverk.”
    – Tidningen Kulturen (SE)

  14. “Ein vedvarande mørk understraum, med monotonien enten i ein enkel pianotone som i stykket «The Other Side» eller på annan måte, alt mens det aukar i intensitet når nye horn eller lydar melder seg på, saman med undringa frå lydaren over kvar dette skal ende. Splash Girl leverer, endå ein gong.”
    – Roald Helgheim, Dagsavisen (N)

  15. “Pressure begeistrer, og bandet er i ferd med å tilrive seg plass blant de virkelig interessante.”
    – Arild R. Andersen, Aftenposten (N)

  16. “Das Pianotrio SPLASHGIRL sinkt mit Pressure (HUBROCD2509) knietief in den Treibsand von Tristesse, die Teergrube der Melancholie. (…) Das Titelstück irrlichtert mit verzerrten Klängen aus dem Innenklavier, mit schrillem Cymbal und Bassgeknurr, bis Bass und Percussion fiedelnd und mit federnden Schlägen wieder das hohe ‘…Square’-Tempo aufgreifen bis zur rauschhaften Raserei, die abreißt für Klavier- und Synthiepoesie. Knudsrød wirft Metallstücke dazwischen – nur einer von vielen Raffinessen, die die gespannten Sinne beglücken. Ganz schön beeindruckend.”
    – Bad Alchemy (DE)