Kjetil Husebø: Years Of Ambiguity

Solo electronic landscapes dominate this set from the Norwegian synthesist but solos from Arve Henriksen and Eivind Aarset add a jazz touch

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My first exposure to the classically trained Husebø (b. 1975, Bergen) was last year’s dreamy collaboration with Arve Henriksen, Sequential Stream (Smalltown Supersound). Thus prompted to explore his small and very eclectic back catalogue, I can safely say Husebø has found himself a distinctive electro-acoustic niche which lies somewhere between the worlds of jazz, ambient, classical and improvised musics.

Although it is predominantly a collection of solo electronic soundscapes, Henriksen guests on the album’s two magnificent bookends and we also hear from guitarist Eivind Aarset. The shoe-gaze reverie of the opener hints at the post-rock ambience of Labradford and Stars Of The Lid, Aarset’s wiry arpeggios shrouded in gaseous atmospherics. Henriksen then makes a confident entry, quickly repositioning the piece within familiar Fourth World hinterlands. Exhale is by contrast freer and more expressionistic, Henriksen’s bell-like trumpet gradually submersed in dense layers of sound before decaying in a fuzzy vocoder-like haze.

Elsewhere the claustrophobic Modernität brings to mind the vast tundral plains of Dark Ambient maestro Thomas Köner. The German’s towering presence is once again felt in the bucolic vistas of Nostalgia, where Husebø’s nods to English Romanticism recall Köner’s breakthrough albums of the early 90s.

Reconciliation melds Eastern modes with a dolorous background drone that sounds like a giant aeolian wind-harp, and it’s the only piece to carry the faintest hint of a beat. The influence of Husebø’s compatriot Geir Jenssen (Biosphere) is felt on Down, a low-key but detail rich interlude, while Strong finds a perfect sonic equilibrium between the featherlight light string effects of Husebø’s synthesisers and a deeper, woody arco drone.

Husebø’s skilful mixing complements his obvious flair as a composer and improviser, and the decidedly post-Punkt manoeuvres of Years Of Ambiguity offer further compelling evidence of the great depth of talent which lies within Norway’s cutting edge.

Discography
Inhale; Modernität; Nostalgia; Reconciliation; Down; Strong; Exhale (44.33)
Husebø (kyb, elec) with Arve Henriksen (t, kyb) on 1 and 7; Eivind Aarset (elg, elec) on 1 and 4. Oslo and Nesodden, Norway, and Mölnlycke, Sweden, April 2021 to February 2022.
NXN Recordings NXN4007CD