Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Intersection: Alog


The Intersection is an ongoing feature on JazzWrap that looks at artists that have blended jazz, world and electronica in new and highly creative ways.

Alog (duo)
Unemployed (Rune Grammofon; 2011)
Espen Sommer Eide (percussion, trumpet, electronics)
Dag-Are Haugan (guitar, electronics)

The Norwegian duo, Alog have matured with each release. As they've grown, so have the sound techniques and dimensions of their recordings. Their fifth full-length release, Unemployed, is a major milestone in the duo's development.


Built on pure improvisation, Alog looked to create a soundscape on the spot as opposed to starting with one theme. Yes the ideas how to start the first few notes or lines was always a part of the mix but after that it was up to the participants to decide where to go next.

Unemployed is a testament to the free flowing aesthetics of European music and what it means to go beyond genres. In some ways this is almost the most alternative and accessible record to date by the group. The album features collaborations with a variety of fellow Norwegian musicians including Sigbjorn Apeland (of 1982 Trio). "Orgosolo" features the duo's signature harmonic drones but with the inclusion of what feel like deep horns and pulsating organ-like movements, Alog have created a haunting operatic and transcendent hymn.


"Unemployed" revolves around a looping hypnotic gallop that would make A Guy Called Gerald and Aphex Twin very excited. It's a wintry mix of loops, clangs, claps and effects that swirl into a melody. It gave me memories of Bruce Gilbert's (of Wire) side project He Said. Dreamy and evolving work that leads the listener along a journey beyond sound borders.

"Last Day At The Assembly Line" could easily be part of a Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire or Test Department album. There are "found sounds," electronics and drums that blend into a tribal cacophony that sounds like a cello/fiddle ensemble gone mad. The piece later gives way to a melodic drone and the buzzsaw of cacophony is laid underneath. Only to return towards the end with a vengeance along with a number of counterpoints. "Bomlo Brenn Om Natta" featuring warped vocals by Dutch poet, Jaap Blank, is rhythmic and intense like some of the better work by Moby. Not danceable but an intense beautiful listen.

"Januar" is a return to their previous work. It's beautiful ghostly atmospherics have a repetitive nature that are dreamlike and pull you further into the speakers to Alog's own "third world." Again, Alog have moved a little bit further than their contemporaries with ideas that seem so remote but yet feel deeply personal and accessible. Unemployed is sublime and highly recommended.

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