Housing spreads across the landscape like a moss whose roots dig deeper beneath the soil than they’re supposed to, a comfort that betrays its violent intention of resculpture. It isn’t anything to get anxious about; no matter how deep you might dig that tunnel, you’re still going to end up surrounded by the dirt, the stems, the stones that remain sunken unendingly and without intention or principle. Even if it isn’t hunting us, the history that sits buried within the rock of this land has a strength beyond our comprehension, a sluggishness that can’t be outrun, and no amount of steel bearings or reinforced concrete can keep what hides all around us from returning to its rightful home.
Likewise, Erlend Apneseth has cemented a harrowing yet wholesome tribute to Earth with Det Andre Rommet, another terrific release from the Norweigan documentarians over at Hubro. Apneseth’s razor-sharp approach to the fiddle makes a fine companion for Stephan Meidell’s electric conduction and Øyvind Hegg-Lunde’s understated percussion; as a trio, the three create a type of creaky background music that manages to soothe even in spite of its twisted passages of ash and ruin. Sometimes they tackle slippery streams of classical Norweigan folk (“Trollsuiten,” “Dialog”), sometimes they bring their pulse to a trembling, textural inch (“Under Isen,” “Det Andre Rommet”), but more often than not, they waver between the poles of action and repose, flailing about with the kind of chaotic elegance of a seagull spiraling downwards and into the ocean (“Magma,” “Hugskot”). It’s freewheeling, disciplined improvisation, and the trio’s scorched yet devotional impressions of coal, fire, and frostbite have a nurturing quality to them in spite of their elusive cut.
“Det Andre Rommet” roughly translates to “The Other Room,” and in listening to the Erlend Apneseth Trio, we are left to question which room is exactly the other? Are we gazing at the house on the album’s cover from the outside perspective of the cave, or is the tunnel gazing at us? Det Andre Rommet sits right next to Ernst Karel in my iTunes library, and Karel’s Swiss Mountain Transport Systems feels tangentially related to the Erlend Apneseth Trio’s work here. Both reveal a deep beholdenness to the Scandinavian countryside and the steady colonization of that land by forces whose nature behaves with a similar kind of sensitive dominance. If it’s a push and pull between environmentalism and technological optimism, Det Andre Rommet suggests that there’s only one true way the dance can end.