Marius Gjersø: Yûgen

Norwegian trumpeter, inspired by travels in snowy Japan, creates cinematic, contemplative music from trumpet, cello, bass and sound processing


Travelling in the deep snows of Japan’s mountainous northern region inspired Norwegian trumpeter, composer and producer Gjersø to write this music, which he crafted from computer-processed recordings of trumpet, cello, bass and bass guitar. Its nine contemplative pieces reflect upon various Japanese cultural concepts and provide luscious electro-acoustic textures that frame his compelling playing and improvising.

Gjersø’s technical and compositional skills make these sound-manipulations transparent and highly musical, the software technology remaining appropriately unobtrusive as the imaginative cinematic soundscapes evoke enigmatic landscapes and ideas.

Tracks unfolds organically, one to the next, while maintaining impressive harmonic and melodic variety. From its sparse opening, the title track, Yûgen, Somehow These Mountains, gradually builds in intensity, to a diffused “wide-screen” brass ensemble peak, against a scintillating rhythmic groove.

Natsukashi, Shadows Are Falling presents a convincing shakuhachi imitation, played on trumpet with a beautiful breathy tone. Furusato, Fluorescent Lights is a perfect miniature while, at other times, the sound processing and layering combine to generate an expansive symphonic feel, particularly during Mono-No-Aware, The Illusion’s mysterious epic-drama climax.

Yûgen is recommended listening for anyone who enjoyed Tony Scott’s Music For Zen Meditation (Verve, 1964), Arve Henriksen’s Sakuteiki, or Pauline Oliveros’ Cistern Chapel Chance Chants from The Ready Made Boomerang.

Gjersø’s thought-provoking notes in the CD insert provide further insights into each track, accompanying the Japanese titles and English subtitles with informative explanations of the different aesthetic concepts. This is excellent, unusual, and uplifting work.

Shinrinyoku, Into The Thousands; Natsukashi, Shadows Are Falling; Komorebi, The Sun Seemed Warmer Then; Mono-No-Aware, The Illusion; Kogarashi, What The Sparrow Did; Yûgen, Somehow These Mountains; Furusato, Fluorescent Lights; Akogare, Additive Feels; Shouganai, Inevitable (33.54)
Gjersø (t, pc); Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen (clo); Sebastian Haugen (b); Jo Berger Myhre (elb). No recording details.
NXN Recordings NXN4006