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'Voices & Strings & Timpani'   

-  Label: 'Hubro Records'
-  Genre: 'Ambient' -  Release Date: '4th December 2020'-  Catalogue No: 'HUBROLP3636'

Our Rating:
This record is the latest project of guitarist Stephan Meidell and drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde both of whom have been regular contributors to a range of other artist releases on the every reliable Norwegian Hubro label.

The two have worked together for fifteen years and released four albums, first as the duo, The Sweetest Thrill, and then as Strings & Timpani.

As a variation of the latter they have now added voices as part of a sextet ensemble which is as follows:
- Mari Kvien Brunvoll: vocal, electronics
- Eva Pfitzenmaier: vocal, keys, flute
- Stein Urheim: electronics, guitar, langeleik
- Stephan Meidell: electronics, synth, guitar
- Kim Åge Furuhaug: drums, percussion
- Øyvind Hegg-Lunde: drums, percussion, synth

The album was recorded partly at a live performance at Bergen’s Nattjazz festival in 2016, and partly at Broen Studio in Bergen - where it was also mixed.

Meidell says "We wanted to write music for us together with friends and colleagues [.....] it's the totality of those voices together that is most important to us." This communal approach (one track is actually called Community) comes through in nine tracks of immersive and hypnotic sounds in which the focus is holistic rather than on individual instruments or vocals.

The voice is used as another instrument with wordless choruses or Dadaistic nonsense poetry reminiscent of minimalist projects of Steve Reich and Meredith Monk. However, Meidell stresses that the album was made without any specific bands or artists in mind saying "We have simply opened up our heads and let it all out.” This may give the impression that there's some wild improvisation going on but the result actually sounds perfectly controlled and composed with some lovely melodies.

The tracks are relatively short for a project of this nature so the total playing time is just under 40 minutes. This is about quality rather than quantity and the fluidity and richness of the rhythms make it an absorbing piece best heard in its entirety.
  author: Martin Raybould

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VOICES & STRINGS & TIMPANI - Voices & Strings & Timpani