Erlend Olderskog Albertsen Basspace: Name Of The Wind

Norwegian bassist creates a set of modal drones and vamps using ancient instruments from India, Africa and Norway along with synthesizer


Oslo-based Erlend Olderskog Albertsen is the living embodiment of a musical omnivore. His 2018 leadership debut RødssalG nEEn GlassdøR was a dazzling multi-media mélange of music and science fiction, while his work with Sanskriti Shrestha’s Avatar and the ensembles Filosofer and Akmee navigates all manner of unconventional musical terrain.

Albertsen’s latest project, Basspace, is no less ambitious, zig-zagging across epochs and continents as ancient rhythms and instruments from India, North Africa and, of course, Norway coalesce into a slick contemporary sound. 

The group’s unusual two-bass line-up adds a satisfyingly deep sense of rootedness to each piece, marking out space while centring the harmonies. It also allows the leader to broaden the ensemble’s timbral palette as he doubles on a number of secondary instruments. His melodically adroit themes are matched by the openness of the compositional structures, creating a series of spaces where individual and collective improvisation can thrive.

The juxtaposition of spacey synths and ancient folk themes is as stark as it’s ingenious on the opener. Albertsen’s wordless vocals and tamboura bring a taste of India to Bakenforliggende, while his earthy soprano adds Coltrane-esque grit to Music – My Favourite Social Medium. The whole ensemble stretches out on the hard-grooving Jacque Fresco And The Venus Project, and Kleiberg‘s expansive piano really catches the ear.

Mäkelä’s plaintive viola recalls the folksy side of Billy Bang on Kjærleik, while the pulsating repetitions of the title track take a convincing tilt at minimalism. The album signs off in some style with one final surprise, the regal airs of Akkorden summoning thoughts of none other than Peter Greenaway.

Proudly eclectic for sure, but listeners partial to the dub-inflected world jazz of Bill Laswell or the cross-cultural experiments of 70s free-jazz pioneers should have little difficulty connecting with Albertsen’s sound world.  

Hittil Ukjent Vesen; Bakenforliggende; Kjærleik; Det Monumentale Ved Stein; Music – My Favourite Social Medium; Jacque Fresco And The Venus Project; Lyttommet; Name Of The Wind; Akkordene (43.57)
Albertsen (b, ss, v) with Ellie Mäkelä (Hardanger fiddle, vla); Hogne Kleiberg (p, kyb); Egil Kalman (b, syn); Simon Olderskog Albertsen (d, syn). Cederberg Studio, Kristiansand, 7-8 December 2022.
Dugnad Rec DUG044