Arve Henriksen: Reviews of Strjon

Released late in February international reviews have been poring in for Arve Henriksen’s third solo album Strjon. And they are like tributaries to a growing river of deep praise, for Arve Henriksen’s music makes the critics open the vaults where they keep what is reserved for the very few, those words and allusions that cannot be dealt out easily if they are to mean anything at all.

Arve Henriksen (Foto: Rune Mæhre/Rikskonsertene)

Strjon is a remarkable record also in terms of its conception. It is based largely on youth recordings –tunes, fragments and ideas- Henriksen made in his home village of Stryn, the medieval name of which is Strjon; flowing water. Stryn is a village of crystallinity, of water in different forms- snow, ice, river, lake- of mountain and sky. Returning to these recordings was a way of returning to primary experiences, the imprint of which Henriksen wanted to bring to the surface on his new record.

He has related that retreating to these experiences and impressions, to utmost localness, was a discovery of something more exotic than the most antipodal musical influences or the most extravagant musical experimentation. One deeply influenced by Japanese music, and thinking, Henriksen found that the reflexive return to “Strjon” outmatched that mystery tenfold.

In an interview with MIC prior to Strjon’s release he explained:
-The making of this record has been a process of listening backwards in time, going through recordings of mine since the age of eighteen. The decision to make this material the basis of a new record, and then going through the tapes, has been a way a way of recognizing some defining traits, roots if you will, which have been there all along.

He joined forces with Supersilent colleague Helge Sten who went thought the recordings and decided which to work with:
-Eight of the tracks are the actual old recordings. They are not perfect, technically and sound wise, but that is part of the point. We uploaded six hours of music onto Helge’s hard disc, (Helge Sten aka Deathprod, who Arve plays with in Supersilent, is also his regular solo producer) and he chose what he liked and wanted to use, cutting down to forty seven minutes, including the new tracks.

Sten also added guitars while Ståle Storløkken, also Supersilent, added keyboards to Henriksen’s trumpet, throat vocal and electronics.

International critics contend that with Strjon Henriksen has become “the cutting edge figure
( ) that raises ambient noodling to high art.” (Phil Johnson, Independent on Sunday)

Pitchfork’s Brian Howe calls Strjon “a quietly stunning album of fugues, stasis, and moods. Given the starkness of its sound palette and the restraint of its compositions, its allure is uncanny-- that melancholy trumpets threading through evocative drones doesn't wear thin over the album's forty-seven minutes is a testament to Henriksen's compositional ingenuity and ace musicianship. He concludes by assessing the record as “an album remarkable for its intimacy and wordless expressivity. “

While The Wire (UK) says:

-Strjon” is no pictorial record of a place, but track by track it builds up an evocation as fresh and as vivid as a summer flower caught in an ice crystal. By the time he reaches the title track, which rises mysteriously out of one silence and disappears into another, one begins to feel that here, too, is the story of a soul as well as a place, a kind of creative autobiography expressed through the half-remembered harmonies of somewhere that existed long before birth and persists even when unseen.

So Arve Henriksen has managed, it seems, the mysterious task infinitely pursued; to go back in time and capture in music the shimmering -elusive yet profoundly enopening- enigmas of childhood’s being-in-the-world. His music is just this: an incomprehensible event of utmost sense and recognition.

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