Somnambule - Writing About Music

Martin Horntveth ~ Fast Motion

Civilisations rise and fall. Musical genres suck nutrients from deep underground via complex root systems until shoots finally appear on the surface, tendrils reach toward the light. We’re thrilled with new truths and a multitude of possibilities branch up and out before our eyes. Maturation sets in, we knowingly accept the truth and take pleasure in the variations on themes, but our hearts no longer beat as fast. Ultimately, entropy sets in and audiences move on. So it goes in the case of prog rock, jungle, rock’n’roll: you name it. And as with the fall of Rome, the Visigoths sack the ruins for gold, taking what they want and leaving the rest to rot. So too with genres…

So is Martin Horntveth a (late) Roman or a Visigoth? Well, actually he’s Norwegian. I know he’s from Norway because the cover of the cd is printed with a silhouette of the country: it might very justifiably be flavour of the month, but that might be taking it too far. A few years back you had to pretend to be from Chicago: now some musical friends of mine are considering pretending to be Norwegian to get some (well-deserved) attention.

And what genres are we talking about? The most obvious antecedents for Horntveth’s 20.02 minute long debut ep are breakbeat of the drill’n’bass variety and IDM. The emphasis is on percussion and rhythm with Autechre-like tectonic plates moving around and over. The percussive focus may not be so surprising as Horntveth is a drummer (with Jagga Jazzist). I can’t say I’m finding this cd strikingly original, but I’m really enjoying it, there’s a grungy, chiming quality to it I really like and a fair amount of energy flows through the music. All in all, I’d say a product of mature Rome I think, though the cd at times sounds literally like the Visigoths ramming the gates…
Colin Buttimer
August 2002
Published by the BBC