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Stein Urheim: Stein Urheim

 

HUBROCD2539/HUBROLP3539
Norwegian release: 21.02.2014
UK release: 24.02.2014
International release: 14.03.2014
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The Bergen-based guitarist Stein Urheim (b. 1979) made a profound impression with his album Kosmolodi, which was released in an extremely limited edition on vinyl in 2012. Now he is back, with a playful and cohesive eponymous album where he takes his very idiosyncratic instrumental music to new and subtle heights. On this album, in addition to guitars Urheim plays a wide variety of stringed instruments from different corners of the world.

Urheim’s music is permeated by a kind of exoticism. It is thoughtful without losing its sense of humour. The influences of jazz, North American and West African blues, and folk music from all over the world are obvious. Urheim himself says that among his sources of inspiration are the American composers Lou Harrison and Steve Reich, Chinese gu qin music, langeleik (Norwegian zither) music from Valdres, and Ornette Coleman.

While Kosmolodi was recorded over a period of time in a number of different places, Urheim decided to take a different approach this time. Much of the album was recorded with sound technician Audun Strype in Lysøen, the magnificent home of the legendary violinist Ole Bull outside of Bergen, in January 2013. The wooden house, ice-cold at that time of year, has a fantastic atmosphere and warm acoustics. The recording was later completed and mixed at Duper Studio in Bergen with technician and producer Jørgen Træen.

Stein Urheim has already released two critically acclaimed albums on Bugge Wesseltoft’s Jazzland label together with singer and musician Mari Kvien Brunvoll. He has been a member of Gabriel Fliflet’s band Åresong and HP Gundersen’s highly respected drone band The Last Hurrah.

The LP comes in a 180g audiophile pressing, includes CD and is limited to 500 copies.
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Reviews:

  1. The fruits of a restess mind, one that constantly seeks fresh pastures. If you enjoy a very nicely recorded acoustic instrument or two alongside some very unusual ones this is well worth a spin.
    - HiFi+ (UK) -7/10

  2. Fingers scrape on strings, knuckles rap gently on the hollow bodies of tamburas, wooden tuning pegs creak, at one point you can hear him pick up his slide before he uses it… this is the sound of a great musician lustily getting his fingers dirty… getting stuck right in there. This is an album of beautiful music but at the same time it bristles with and relishes in noise.
    - The Quietus (UK)

  3. These inform the globe-wandering free-spirited nature of the music, exemplified in titles like Beijing Blues and Great Distances, and informed by the early minimalsm of Terry Riley and Steve Reich meeting minds with a 21st ccentury form of cosmic Americana. It makes you want to get out there and explore.
    - Rock A Rolla (UK)

  4. Sometimes, as on the compellingly rootsy ‘Beijing Blues’, where you’d swear Urheim is only a step away from exploring the delta blues, it works. The rest is a bit of an amiable ramble.
    - Marlbank (UK)

  5. Indeed, Stein Urheim is well on his way to becoming one of Norway’s most talented and pioneering musicians, whose capable of crafting music that’s not just eclectic, but thoughtful, cerebral and beautiful.
    - Derek´s Music Blog (UK)

  6. Yet another example of how the Norwegians see and hear things in a fresh and different way. And a lovely recording, too.
    - TheJazzBreakfast (UK)

  7. Stein Urheim, Stein Urheim: Solo venture for the veteran Norwegian guitarist, who presents this fascinating album of multi-stringed instruments and effects in a way that behaves with an easy folk music charm. Just as likely to appeal to fans of Leo Kottke as it is fans of John Stowell’s jazz-folk ventures. A myriad of sounds presented all at once, but so casually that listener can take them all in at their leisure.
    - Wondering Sound (USA)

  8. Når jazzartister gir ut selvtitulerte album, er det enten idétørke eller noe stort på gang. Her er det ikke idétørke.
    - Verdens Gang 5/6 (NO)

  9. Et djervt og svært så kreativt forsøk på å fornye gitarmusikken, noe som han lykkes med i veldig stor grad.
    - Østlendingen 5/6 (N)

  10. Musikken er vakker, reflekterende, melodisk, annerledes, antydende, spennende, ofte langsom og uhyre personlig. Det holder mer enn lenge til å plassere Stein Urheim oppe blant de aller mest uttrykksfulle.
    - Side2.no 5/6 (NO)

  11. Blues og folketoner fra mange adresser er klare premissleverandører for Urheims gitarutfoldelse, som er melodiøs, tilnærmet klanglig grenseløs og tilbakelent leken i det ene øyeblikket, rå og rytmisk stramt tilskrudd i det andre.
    - Dagbladet, Terje Mosnes 5/6 (NO)

  12. En lang rekke av musikalsk fabuleringer, åpenbart med et eneste hovedmål, å skape fin musikk. Og det gjør han.
    - Bergens Tidende 5/6 (NO)

  13. Stein Urheim har tekniske ferdigheter til å legge listen høyt, men samtidig en følsomhet i fingertuppene som gjør at dette aldri oppleves som en rem oppvisning av egne ferdigheter. Med et musikalsk hjerte som banker like hardt for blues, jazz og folkemusikk er han en sjelden fugl i det norske landskapet.
    - Bergensavisen 5/6 (NO)

  14. Musikken forundrer og forbløffer, den er gnistrende original.
    - Dagbladet, Fredrik Wandrup – anbefaling (NO)

  15. Låtene er lange og slynger seg inn og ut av stemninger. Både vestlige og østlige. «Beijing Blues» sier litt om hvor vi skal hen. Sjekk albumet. Meditativ reise gjennom gitarlandets uendelige vidder.
    - Haugesunds Avis – anbefaling (NO)

  16. From the Norwegian drone-band and jazz scene comes Bergen’s Stein Urheim with an intriguing solo album, full of space and measure…It’s all assured, subtle and gently humorous. If Les Triaboliques twang your synapses, this one should be right
    up your street.
    - fROOTS – Ian Keary (UK)

  17. Et usedvanlig vellydende stykke verdensmusikk, med visse krysningspunkt til hva Bill Frisell eller Ry Cooder holder på med,
    men med en mer improvisatorisk innstilling til instrumentene. Du har ikke levd før du lytter til denne platen, med øynene mildt lykkelig vendt ut av et togvindu. Boken forblir uåpnet turen gjennom.
    - Dagens Næringsliv, Audun Vinger (N)

  18. According to Wikipedia, Stein Urheim is a “Norwegian jazz musician (guitar).” Listening to his new, self-titled, album, though, it’s clear that “jazz” doesn’t quite do the job to describe the music. Guitars of all types: slides and steel and more traditional, weave together to create slowly shifting sound collages. There are multiple influences buried within each instrumental piece: jazz sure, but blues and bluegrass; ambient and noise, Western and world. Compositions develop along the way, as new themes bubble up and then float away. This is patient, beautiful music. Enjoy!
    - JamBase ReccomNeds Picks (US)

  19. Ganz und gar einzigartig spielt der Norweger Stein Urheim die Gitarre: schrundig, entspannt und sehr humorvoll. Mal erinnert das an einen staubigen Schwarz-Weiss-Western, mal an alternatives Songwriting ohne Worte, mal an chinesische Musik oder skandinavische Folklore. In der Winterkälte hat er sich ins legendäre Holzhaus Lysøen des Geigers Ole Bull bei Bergen zurückgezogen und ergänzt um diverse Zupfinstrumente. Synthesizer, Flöte und Harmonika in fünf freien Stücken ohne Elle einen sehr eigenen Oranismus waschsen lassen, der gleichemassen exotisch wie vertraut klingt. Friedlich verspielt entsteht auf instrumenten aus verschiedenen Ecken der Welt ein verträumter und witzig aufgerauter Klangkosmos, in dem die Harmonien nie billig sind.
    - Leipziger Volkszeitung (DE)

  20. a wollte einer mal was ausprobieren. Wie bringe ich eine Vielzahl von Saiten­instrumenten harmonisch unter einen Deckel. Stein Urheim, norwegischer Gitarrist aus Bergen hat seinen ganzen Fuhrpark aufgeboten, um ein Album (fast) im Alleingang zu bestreiten. Neben so bekannten Instrumenten wie Gitarre, Bouzouki, Mandoline oder Banjo, befasst sich der Nordländer auch noch mit eigenartigen, weil weitgehend unbekannten chinesischen und norwegischen Zithervarianten, verwendet eine Art Andenukulele namens „Charango” und peppt alles mit einem analogen Synthesizer und diversen Soundeffekten auf. Sein Freund Jørgen Træen sorgt für weitere elektronische Unterfütterung. Wie muss man sich dann also diese fünf ausladenden Stücke vorstellen? So ähnlich ungefähr, wie wenn Ry Cooder einen Workshop veranstalten würde. Stein Urheim zeigt sich also der Musterschüler des Amerikaners, im Geiste, versteht sich. Denn etwas experimentierfreudiger als Cooder ist Urheim dann schon. Aber ähnlich entspannt. Im Hintergrund pluckern und wabern nordlichtmäßig die Klangteppiche, im Vordergrund das mannigfaltige Saitenspiel. Wer ganz besonders investigativ drauf ist, versucht dann noch herauszubringen, welches der aufgeführten Strings hier gerade zum Einsatz kommt.
    - Sound & Image (DE)

  21. Fels meiseln, auf Stein Urheim (HUBROCD2529) also spielt er Gitarren, Slide Tambura, Fretless Bouzouki, Mandoline, Banjo, dazu auch noch Flöten, Mundharmonika, die chinesische Zither Gu Qin und noch mehr, Jørgen Træn mischt sich dazu mit Modularsynthesizer und Effekten. Der Musik sind der steinige Norden, der Wilde Westen und der Ferne Osten allesamt nicht groß genug, Urheim schwingt sich auf kosmolodischen Schwingen jenseits von Raum und Zeit. Indische Psychedelik mischt er mit Bluegrassweirdness, die Appalachen versetzt er nach Hawaii. Er arpeggiert mit hohem Fahey-Faktor, er klampft und wimmert, dass sich jeder norwegische Drogendealer fragen muss, was er wohl für eine besondere Quelle hat. Hypnotisiert beginnt man die Sandkörner zu zählen, die in Zeitlupe durchs Stundenglas schweben. Mit den Uhren schmelzen die rechten Winkel. Der ‘Beijing Blues’ ist weder blauer noch gelber als die übrigen Kurierfahrten nach ‘Kosmoloda’. Aber Urheim stompt dazu, als hätten er und John Lee Hooker eine (Ur)-Großmutter vom Gelbe Fluss gehabt. Große Entfernungen (‘Great Distances’) schrumpfen auf den Durchmesser eines Schädels, die Sonne geht im Osten unter, und nimmt dabei Tropfenform an. Alles biegt sich, krümmt sich zu Dünensilhouetten. Aber es pulsiert auch, es groovt und swingt wie nur ein Langstreckentrip auf der kosmischen Seidenstraße swingt. Das alles kommt nicht von Ungefähr, der Mann aus Bergen ist schon auf Spiritual Non-believers von The Last Hurrah!! seinen weirden Neigungen gefolgt und ebenso mit seinem Album Kosmolodi (Hubro, 2012). Auf diesem Stein könnte der Feuervogel sein Ei ausbrüten.
    - Bad Alchemy (DE)

  22. Aside from excellent musicianship, the eminent quality of the music of folk guitarists Leo Kottke and John Fahey that draws in so many fans is the storytelling nature of their music. Whether accompanied by a band or, even better, in a solo setting, Kottke and Fahey were able to create entire worlds in their music, populate them with a variety of characters, and then lay down a little bit of plot into the foundation of a tune. Live, it’s common for Kottke to tell anecdotes from his own life, and show how they inspired the next song to be performed… additional exposition adding more texture, more color to the story of the song. And the music had so much to say, even in its simplest forms.
    Stein Urheim has that quality. Building on the territory covered on his excellent 2012 release Kosmolodi, his new recording, the self-titled Stein Urheim, creates entire universes from scratch, then presents a microcosm of each one song at a time. A kaleidoscopic array of influences of regional folk musics, of blues, of jazz, of classical, of avant-garde, of whatever unique expressions reside in his head, Urheim presents them all with the heart of the storyteller….Perhaps most compelling about this album is that the presentation of this myriad of sounds and influences is done with a casual ease, a lazy Sunday atmosphere that is supremely compelling… intricacies and complexities delivered with an easy grace. Just a beautiful album, where there is no end to the details and their magic never fades.
    - Bird Is The Worm (USA)

  23. ”Kosmolodi” kom till på olika ställen under en längre tid, medan ”Stein Urheim” är resultatet av en mer koncentrerad inspelning. Det är till musikens gagn; jämfört med ”Kosmolodi” är ”Stein Urheim” ett stort steg framåt. Föregångaren var sökande, som om den trevade efter någonting som ännu var okänt för den. ”Stein Urheim” har funnit det. Man känner igen flera drag från förra skivan, men här har de renodlats, förtydligats, formulerats med större precision och pregnans.
    - Tidningen Kulturen (SE)

  24. The recording’s most sublime moment arrives nine minutes into the second piece, “After the Festival,” when a lilting episode appears whose singing melodies are so lovely the effect is breathtaking. And though one is somewhat caught off guard by the beauty of that moment, the music that leads up to it is splendid, too, with Urheim even at one point seemingly channeling the joyous spirit of African juju. At eleven minutes, it’s a long track yet Urheim handles the material in such a way that it flows at a leisurely pace without ever feeling directionless. Calling Urheim’s album remarkable is no exaggeration.
    - Textura (CA)

  25. Bereits nach dem ersten Hördurchgang dieses Albums fragt man sich: STEIN URHEIM? Wer ist das? Was will dieser Musiker mit dem seltsamn Namen bei uns Hörern anrichten? Aber auch: Wo genau liegt diese Faszination und wo die verwirrende, wenig Sinn stiftende Mission des Norwegers? Und vor allem: Warum, verdammt noch mal, geht von dieser Musik solch unglaublicher Reiz aus?(…)Ein ganzes Instrumental-Album im verhaltenen Tempo. Geht das, ohne Langeweile zu verbreiten? Ja, es geht, wie uns der Norweger STEIN URHEIM beeindruckend beweist. Auch wenn durchaus etwas stark das nordisch Unterkühlte dem Album innewohnt, verbreitet es eine echte musikalische Wohlfühl-Atmosphäre.
    - Musikreviews (DE)

  26. …Hypnotisiert beginnt man die Sandkörner zu zählen, die in Zeitlupe durchs Stundenglas schweben…Das alles kommt nicht von Ungefähr, der Mann aus Bergen ist schon auf Spiritual Non-believers von The Last Hurrah!! seinen weirden Neigungen gefolgt und ebenso mit seinem Album Kosmolodi (Hubro, 2012). Auf diesem Stein könnte der Feuervogel sein Ei ausbrüten.
    - Bad Alchemy (DE)

  27. “Reccomended new releases listing”
    - New York City Jazz Record – Laurence Donahue-Green (USA)

  28. All too often, drone-ish solo projects get mired in cosmic soupiness, but Norwegian guitarist Urheim wisely avoids that. His multitracked stringed instruments speak with strong immediate personality, and he doesn´t dawdle. He´s also brimming with sonic and theamatic ideas. His acoustic guitar picking is central, aided by a vast supplemental collection of exotic instruments, both freddet and unfretted. Spanning the contemplative to the humorous, it´s an ear-resuscitating treat.
    - Downbeat – Jeff Potter (USA)

  29. Stein Urheim is a Norvegian guitarist based in Bergen. In 2012 he released his first solo-album titled ‘Kosmolodi’, and now we witness his second one. He was involved in the rock band Steady Steele, also member of Gabriel Fliflet´s Aresong band, plus drone band The Last Hurrah. He is an astonishing guitarist who knows history well. On this album he plays also slide tamboura, fretless bouzouki, gu qin, zither, mandolin, charango, etc. And Jørgen Træen contributing on modular synth assists him. Listening to his new solo-album I could not help find myself constantly trying to detect all the influences that surface in his pieces. We hear influences of Fripp (Frippertronics) like at the beginning of the opening track ‘Kosmoloda’. But also Ry Cooder, Bill Frisell, Gary Lucas, Ornette Coleman and numerous others pass by, as well as many musical idioms. This is not to critize this release, although when listening I do not want to be involved solely in the game detecting influences. But happily Urheim leads us also into his own musical imagination. ‘Beijng Blues’ for example is a beautiful bluesy tune, and shows that Urheim sticks to tradition on the one hand, but sets also new steps, making surprising delicate gestures etc. He is not a traditionalist. Above all, it is impossible not to be affected by the warm and inspired playing by Urheim. Beautiful!
    - Vital Weekly – DM (NL)

  30. Der skal ikke herske nogen tvivl om at det norske pladeselskab Hubro er et af de mest spændende nordiske pladeselskaber, når det gælder udgivelser i spændingsfeltet mellem impro, rock, jazz, electronica og eksperimenterende musik. Der er et gennemført og færdigt udtryk i musikken. Om det så er noise eller ambient. Deres pladecovers er en grafisk fornøjelse.

    Blues og country mødes i et støvet vejkryds. Bill Frisell krydser klinger med Ry Cooder. Mumbai sender gode vibrationer mod Beijing. Strengeekvilibristen Stein Urheim har lavet et meget originalt album, hvor han udover guitar også spiller på fløjte, harmonika, tamboura, bpuzouki, mandolin og mange andre instrumenter. Produceren Jørgen Træen supplerer med synth. Pladen er en levende vidnesbyrd på, at musik er grænseløs. Stein Urheim lader forskellige musikalske traditioner mødes og får dem smeltet umærkeligt og organisk sammen.
    - Jazznyt (DK)

  31. Urheim shows off his talents on this album which acts as a showcase for his influences from a swamp-style, sleazy guitar sound on the first track, Kosmoloda to a distinct John Fahey/Leo Kottke, finger picking melodicism with a frighteningly catchy later section on the 11 minute epic, After The Festival. Throughout the album, however, there is one over-riding theme. A certain simplicity and patience. Urheim always appears to be ‘in the moment’. Giving his full attention to each note from his guitar while pacing his work to allow secondary sounds to take a full part in the music. The vibration of a string, the knocking of the guitar body…Both sumptuous is terms of instrumental skill and imaginative delivery, Urheim has constructed a breath-taking musical construction that will delight and intrigue.
    - The Audiophile Man (UK)

  32. Stein Urheim er en artist som tar oss med på slike ytre og indre reiser. Hans andre soloalbum er en konstant befrielse å høre på, alltid en åpenbaring å lytte til. Dette er et album som egner seg både som lydspor til situasjonen (ta den med på bussen, sett den på til fredagskosen, hør den i hagen), men også til intensiv fordypelse…Stein Urheim har laget en av vakreste og mest givende platene i år. Ikke overraskende utgitt av Hubro, som i seg selv har blitt en kvalitetsgarantist for musikk rettet mot den åpensinnede lytter.
    - Bladet Folkemusikk (N)

  33. Urheim casts a broad net, exploring multicultural influences, minimalist concerns, freewheeling improvisational dispositions…and plenty of blues and folk. An album that magically takes these multifarious sources and coalesces them into a remarkably unified whole, Stein Urheim is an album—and a name—that anyone interested in the broader potential of things with strings will find easy to love…and difficult to forget.
    - Allaboutjazz.com – John Kelman (Canada)