Somnambule - Writing About Music

Alexander Rishaug ~ Possible Landscape

Possible Landscape begins with piercing tones that ring together like a flock of synthetic birds, each tuned to a single, unwavering note. The track, The Mountain Song, gradually builds itself beneath this unearthly chorus as if patiently assembling foothills before approaching its main task – that of moulding craggy pixel-peaks. There’s an attractively weighty grandeur to the exercise founded upon a grim determination. Or perhaps it’s the tale of a robot climber, climbing unwearyingly upwards. Whatever, a couple of minutes before its close, the music changes as if the peak had been reached and the rhythm falls away to leave a misty ambience, a distant rumbling and then silence.

Alexander Rishaug is a Norwegian artist based in Oslo working in the field of electronica. He’s collaborated with the likes of Hakon Kornstad and Lasse Marhaug and Possible Landscape is his second solo album, succeeding his 2002 debut, Panorama which was released on Smalltown Supersound.

Or L!’s popping, clicking rhythm steadily rises from a dense haze, perhaps condensed from the one its predecessor vaporised into. The music drifts forward like a lazy tide filmed in slow motion creeping up a shingle beach below a leisurely sky, each pop and click a new pebble wetted by its saline tongue. Halfway through, the sound metamorphoses as if diving upwards into the firmament and from there into space. The next two tracks, Cross Platform and Dual Appearance repeat this change, the former metamorphosing from chilled, gravelly trudging to an altogether more church-like ambience, the latter from beetle-browed haste to an edgy new-dawn brightness.

Room Tone bucks the dualistic bent of its five predecessors by retaining a jittery hum that is continually haloed by the digital equivalent of the plastic flash that had to be cut away from Airfix kit parts before assembly. The intrusion of sudden, shortlived tangles of higher pitched notes only serve to emphasise the uneasy calm of the music. Final track, My Favourite Place eases itself in on the hum of a wheezy accordion plagued by an insistent though limnal rhythm. Again there’s the visiting of birdsong, along with other ambient sounds that serve to instil a sense of perspective that would otherwise be absent. The music doesn’t make clear where this place might be, perhaps it’s location is musical or sonic, rather than geographical.

Although Possible Landscape bears hints of Nobukazu Takemura’s analogue playground rhymes and also of the middle European chill of B.J. Nilsen’s soundscapes, Rishaug’s music bears an attractive, meditative quality all its own.
Colin Buttimer
March 2005
Published by the BBC