Acclaimed Norwegian composer and instrumentalist Terje Isungset has pioneered the making of instruments from pure ice, in order to create haunting music that transcends genre. Late Nov/early Dec sees Isungset touring rural England.
Ice Music at Somerset House from THIRD CHANNEL on Vimeo.
Taking blocks of ice from frozen lakes in the heart of Norway, Isungset carefully carves these into instruments that create beautiful sounds which he combines with the sublime voice of Maria Skranes and recordings from harsh mountain tops.
Ice Music will visit a range of atmospheric venues from an 18th century barn in Oxfordshire to one of only two stické tennis courts in the world in Wiltshire.
Terje Isungset has been a great innovator in terms of customized instruments and the use of bare natural materials to create sound. He uses wood, rock and most prominently ice as the basis for new kinds of instruments, which he designs and plays to great effect. This makes his performances more than just musical expressions but rather a composite experience where visual and material aspects are also conveyed.
Over the past few years he has made “ice music” his specialty, and he has developed and refined a special expertise in creating his own ice instruments –customized for each concert, and meant to last only for the limited duration of the actual performance. He has thus explored the special relationship between music – in the way a live performance is a one-time event- and the non-durable, fragile material of ice.
Ice music is therefore an artistic expression that goes well beyond traditional musical performances because the material aspect is so prominent, and the hardware so fragile and unpredictable. Adding to the visual aspect - and the sort of shared haptic realm that playing on ice instruments creates between Isungset and his audience - there is also the element of unpredictability and uncertainty that comes from making music on “natures own condition,” so to spek, rather than on regular instruments over which the musician has complete control. Isungset thus combines musicianship in the normal sense with an aspect of playing along with and harnessing the raw natural material he makes use of.
It is no surprise then that Isungset and his ice music has become a sought after artistic expression at events and in circumstances where the aim is to give the audience an experience out of the ordinary. This goes for regular musical settings (jazz and contemporary), where the use of ice gives the aforementioned flavour of fragile and unpredictable naturalism, but also for the kinds of events where the material itself and its wintry nature, rather than music, is in focus.
Terje Isungset, Drummer, Composer