Release Date: Jan 18, 2011
Record label: VHF
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Æthenor's early-2011 album, its fourth to this point, draws on shows done the previous year in Oslo, and it's no surprise that there's much about the group now that suggests the avant-garde jazz and noise work on the Norwegian Rune Grammofon label, above and beyond the immediate connections to the country via Ulver's Kristoffer Rygg. The combination of Rygg and his new bandmate Daniel O'Sullivan, as well as Steve Noble and Stephen O'Malley, has become even more of a continuum in recent years as players appear on each other's projects or live, but, rightly, En Form for Blå feels of its own space and location rather than simply an addendum. "Jocasta," the first of two lengthy pieces that start the album, emerges with slow emptiness before moving into more jamming rumbles; if it's representative of the players' various backgrounds, halfway between black metal hush and atmosphere and jazz-derived exploration, it's done with skill and a sense of how to make it a performance.
The concept of improvisation in music is, while not completely wedded to jazz, at least bound to it quite tightly. Obviously this doesn't have to be so tightly bound with all the traditional and conventional instrumentation and form, as the all-star group Æthenor go a long way to demonstrating. Comprised of Stephen O'Malley from Sunn O))), Daniel O'Sullivan and Christopher Rygg of Ulver and renowned drummer Steve Noble, album En Form for Blå was entirely improvised – or 'automatically composed', according to functionalist turn of phrase on the sleeve – at three shows in Oslo last year.
Often remarkable adventures in surreal sonics from the genre-scrambling collective. Mike Diver 2011 Given where constituents of this collective come from – Stephen O’Malley is best known for his involvement in inspirational/terrifying aural adventurers Sunn O))); Daniel O’Sullivan for folk-proggers Guapo and Mothlite’s sinister soundscapes; Kristoffer Rygg fronts Norwegian metal-turned-exploratory-electro combo Ulver; and Steve Noble has lit up the improvisational world with his drumming for a couple of decades – it’s no surprise that En Form for Blå is an album probably unsuitable for ears tuned to mainstream tastes. It’s a cavernous creation, echoing with dread and menace; squealing strings and rattling percussion present a rather dark design.