Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø/Daniel Lercher/ - Off The Coast [Sofa Music - 2019]Off The Coast offers a sparse, often ambient- yet taut, & tonally blurred take on improv. With the albums four tracks been drifting & lapping electro-acoustic studies that bring together pressing and expanded drones, simmering-to-sour siren tones, plucking lulls, and darting twangs.
The albums presented in the form of a CD, or vinyl release- I’m reviewing the CD version which comes in a digipak presentation. The front cover features a photo of a small dock- this located in Sula a small island off Trondheim Norway, where the material for the album was recorded. Inside the digipak, we get a write-up about the release and another picture of the dock at Sula. The release appears of Norway’s Sofa music- whom over the last year or so release some of the more intriguing & distinctive releases from with-in the improv genre, and Off The Coast is certainly another example of this trend.
The core trio behind the release is Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø- Trombone, Half Clarinet, and breath piano. Daniel Lercher-Lap Top, field recordings, bass clarinet. Julie Rokseth- Celtic lever harp & Pictish harp. One track features the voice of Aksel Johansen reciting lines from an old fishing song from the island of Sula.
From it’s outset, and for most of its runtime the pace here is slow, considered & often slurred- with the three creating tense sound worlds that move from spaced out bass purrs/chops, hovering drone expanse that from time-to-time blossomed in to swirl & piecing, descending swells of angular pitch shifts, and more pressing sour tone stretches. The albums material very much emulates the sound of the sea, and the quite, and I’d imagine at times eerier island of Sula, which today has a very small population of just 60 permanent residents.
Off The Coast is certainly not a release for everyone, and even if you’re a fan of improv normally, I’d tread carefully as it feels of this is more drone & sound simmering based, moving more towards pressing & piecing ambience - but with an improv unpredictability.Roger Batty