Humcrush Rest at Worlds End

[Rune Grammofon; 2009]

Styles: electro-acoustic improvisation, free jazz
Others: Moha!, Supersilent, Kemialliset Ystävät

Rune Grammafon is more like a florid ecosystem than a record label. The Norwegian concern is populated with a variety of related species that collide in tangled postures, mating and fighting, somehow accelerating the evolution of a virid jungle of sounds. Humcrush is yet another of these collaborative organisms spawned from cryptic, hybrid strains. The scattered dialects of the bands’ members stem from their diverse pasts. Stale Storlokken is a founding member of the troupe Supersilent, and Thomas Stronen has worked with ensembles that include Food, Maria Kannegaard Trio, and Parish.

Together, the duo offer a more reflective but no less eccentric version of the extemporaneous jamming their label has championed for years. Storlokken snatches pads and voices from ’70s and ’80s synth mavens like Tangerine Dream and sends them skyward as Stronen’s percussion, both live and electronic, patters and romps below. The cold, clinking optimism of tracks like “Audio Hydraulic” and “Airport” recalls the work of Terje Isungset, Swedes who play instruments carved from ice in a frozen room beneath Stockholm’s Ice Hotel. Indeed, the music's patient, syncopated crackle and murky undercurrents also bring to mind field recordings of melting glaciers (see: Douglas Wolk's Antarctica).

The album’s impetuous side comes out on “Steam,” whose ruffling drum fills and chattery hi-hats stay just a half-step outside drum n bass territory. Throw Storlokken’s distorted keyboard stabs into the mix and you’ve got, weirdly enough, Norsemen sounding not too much different from Konono N°1. This medley of references can help triangulate the Humcrush sound, but like most Rune Grammofon denizens, this group is more successful at luring a listener into its private domain than tracing routes out of it.

If you’re looking for music that makes immediate sense, Rest at Worlds End is sure to disappoint you. If, on the other hand, you want something that will test the elasticity of your imagination, Humcrush’s ice-glazed corner of the Rune habitat is about the best place you could look.

1. Stream
2. Edingruv
3. Rest at Worlds End
4. Audio Hydraulic
5. Steam
6. Airport
7. Solar Sail
8. Creak
9. Ghost Dance
10. Bullfight
11. Hit

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