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Stephan Meidell: Cascades

 

HUBROCD2539
Released february 2014
 
 
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Impressive debut album from adventurous guitar player Stephan Meidell is a guitarist and improviser and plays with the bands Cakewalk, The Sweetest Thrill, Vanilla Riot and Krachmacher. Stephan hails from Kristiansand but resides in Bergen. This is his solo debut release. Available as DL and in a LP edition limited to 200 copies.
 
“This project began in January 2011, when I wanted to test out the acoustics of an old margarine factory and meat storage space that was being built into a culture house. The second floor was big and spacy, and would later be used for concerts, exhibitions etc. The acoustics of the space was going to be treated with plates to dampen the reverb, so I had to act quickly. Music studios were already up and running in the house at this time, so to be able to record, I had to start around 6 in the morning, before they came to work. Placing mikes all around the room, I had no special plan – just improvise and see where it got me. I did this for four days straight, and in the end I was exhausted – both by the cold (the room had no heating), and trying to wreck my brain to find new ways of exploring the factory-like acoustics. I ended up with a lot of hours of material, and gradually started going through it the following months. I later did some recordings in my studio, and have been working on this music on and off for the last two and a half years. In 2012 I performed a commission for Ny Musikk Kristiansand at a big silo at the Architect School of Bergen, and found that some of the material from that space worked great together with the material from Bergen Kjott. “Suspire” is a layering of recordings from that concert and the Bergen Kjott sessions with parts re-recorded in the vast space of the big freezer hall of Bontelabo (Europe’s biggest?). It is – at the core – the sound of three different room characteristics (mis)treated by an improvising guitarist. This layering of sounds has become the foundation for “Cascades”. Putting together material from different improvisations, adding rhythm to some, changing the tonality to others etc. It is not merely free improvisations, but I have tried not to treat the music to surgically. You can hear some noise from the room, from the effect pedals and me moving around, and minor “accidents” along the way. This the sound of acoustics that probably will never be heard again. The second floor of Bergen Kjott is now dampened, but the sound that was is now on tape.” Stephan Meidell – Bergen, September, 2013.

 
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Reviews:

  1. Alle stykkene har en grunnstemning som berører, en brennende stillferdighet som spenner lyttebuen
    - Aftenposten 5/6 (NO)

  2. Meidell tar lytterne ut av sine sedvanlige omgivelser og plasserer dem i et rom av lyd han selv har konstruert, og det med usedvanlig spennende virkninger.
    - Bergens Tidende 5/6 (NO)

  3. Noe mindre imøtekommende, men absolutt givende på Hubros vinterliste er…den temmelig unike gitarplaten «Cascades» signert Stephan Meidell; hovedsakelig en utforskning av de spesielle akustiske flatene i de snart forsvunne lokalitetene til Bergen Kjøtt.
    - Dagens Næringsliv (N)

  4. The motorik drum patterns and bass pulses that chug through “Sedate,” the album’s longest piece at nine minutes, give it a somewhat krautrock-like quality, but that kind of treatment is more the exception than the rule. Though the drum machine also figures into the design of “Stage,” Meidell typically eschews beat patterns in favour of a slow-moving, meditative style that allows for ample breathing room between the notes. “Serene,” for example, is representative of the album in the way it spreads guitar strums across a broad, six-minute terrain otherwise speckled with textural treatments. While it’s understandably not as dynamic as Cakewalk’s late-2013 release Transfixed, Cascades nevertheless provides a satisfying document of Meidell as a solo artist and showcases its creator’s fine-tuned appetite for sound texture and design.
    - Textura (CA)

  5. Norwegian, Bergen-based guitarist Stephan Meidell—known as a member of the experimental-improvising trio Cakewalk (Wired and Transfixed, Hubro, 2012 and 2013)—solo debut puts him in the same league of other Norwegian guitarists as Eivind Aarset and Stian Westerhus who redefined and re-conceptualized the role of the electric guitar…Bold, weird but ultimately arresting in its strange beauty.
    - Allaboutjazz.com – Eyal Hareuveni

  6. Den starkaste associationen jag får är till filmmusik, för att vara exakt till den i originalversionen av ”The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. Filmen i sig är en av de mest suggestiva som har gjorts, och musiken ett av de mest effektiva soundtracks jag känner till. ”Cascades” påverkar på ett liknande sätt; den får en att tro att man hör – till och med ser! – sådant som inte finns där. Så egentligen är den mycket större än till och med de gamla avdankade industrilokaler som den föddes i, den når långt utanför sig själv i en intensiv samverkan med lyssnaren. ”Cascades” hör till de skivor där åhöraren ovillkorligen görs till medskapare. Den kräver ett deltagande oavsett om man är villig att ställa sig till dess förfogande eller inte, och den lockar fram sådant ur de psykiska djupen som man inte självklart vill delge vare sig musiken eller sig själv – ett slags subliminalt tvång som till en början medför obehag men som i efterhand, och efter hand, bäst kan liknas vid en rening.
    - Tidningen Kulturen (SE)

  7. Bergen, Norway-based guitarist Stephan Meidell takes a bold step to the forefront of new, experimental guitarists with his debut record, “Cascades”. It hums, rumbles, thumps, growls and purrs its way into your consciousness and hypnotizes with its unique blend of percussive elements, drones and guitar textures.
    Recorded in a cavernous old meat storage facility, a silo and a large freezer (!) and improvised before taking the recordings back to his home studio for more work he successfully reimagines the role of the guitar and creates what may best be called “industrial free form crunk jazz” and at times you’ll be challenged to find what is guitar and what is some other mad sound module or effect pedal.
    Like his Norwegian predecessors Eivind Aarset and Stian Westerhuis, who also explore large, reverberant spaces, he is wholly original and masterful at his art and is an expert at making you “feel” the largess of their recordings. The control he exudes over these spaces is nothing less than dizzying. Anyone who has played in natural, untreated facilities can attest to how difficult it can be to control but Mr. Meidell never seems like he’s struggling or fighting these rooms. You’d almost think he knew exactly how to restrain himself and play into it beforehand. The decay on the performances are magnificent.
    Schooled at the Jazz Conservatory of Amsterdam, Stephan Meidell also contributes to other projects such as Cakewalk (guitar, synth and drum drone rock), The Sweetest Thrill (indie hypno guitar and drums) and Krachmacher (noise pop) but start here with this fantastic solo debut. It’s majestic, fiery, scary and alluring. Highly recommended.
    - Freejazz Collective, Ed Pettersen