Lemur + Reinhold Friedl

May 28, 2021

SOFA 581

Arriving with similar sound concepts that disregard the supposed cleavage among notated, improvised, experimental and folkloric sounds, the Norwegian Lemur quartet establish a cross-border sound synthesis with German pianist Reinhold Friedl. The result is a seven-part essay in microtonal connectivity that includes lyrical motifs among the passages of rhythmic persistence and extended techniques.

Working in a diminished version of the larger Zeitkratzer ensemble he usually leads Friedl confines himself to intermittent key clips or discordant patterns, with more intimate connections established from strummed, plucked or stopped internal strings, usually with preparations ringing on top. Playing as a group with others innovators like Mats Gustafsson, the Lemur members also have extensive individual experience in other bands. As well, each plays conventional orchestral instruments: Hild Sofie Tafjord’s French horn, Bjørnar Habbestad’s flute, Michael Duch’s bass and Lene Grenager’s cello. But performance norms aren’t the expected. Tafjord’s alp-horn like echoes or strident whines adds to atmospheric textures that filter into the sequences. Similarly Duch’s and Grenager’s arco thrusts are almost always metallic and jagged, making full use of col legno, sul tasto and spicatto vibrations. While Habbestad too smears, shrills and buzzes thick textures, his few brief cascading flutters add melodic tinges, which invariably are dampened into full group drones.

Moving through hills and valleys of split tones and stretches at a moderate pace, the performance maintains its pace by linking the accelerating and descending tones usually expressed by Tafjord’s and Habbestad’s wails and flutters to the percussive pressure from clenched string continuum. Individual expression is usually limited to group interaction, although when French horn half-valve effects brush against aviary flute peeps the enveloping strings animate a metal machine-like drone. Intense string rubs horn plunger tones and flute howls help move the penultimate section to a louder but slower climax. Connective and challenging, the finale stretches minimalist expressions from strident squeaks to low-pitched hums into a single muted vibration.

The components this alloy combines creates a program that’s more than the sum of its parts.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Component 1 2. Component 2 3. Component 3 4. Component 4 5. Component 5 6. Component 6 7. Component 7

Personnel: Hild Sofie Tafjord (French horn); Bjørnar Habbestad (flutes); Reinhold Friedl (piano); Lene Grenager (cello) and Michael Duch (bass)