Somnambule - Writing About Music

Strønen/Storløkken ~ Humcrush

Strønen/Storløkken may not be the catchiest name ever to have tangled itself around a listener’s ears, but the wealth of new music that’s flowed out of Norway in recent years may have accustomed some to the angularity of its language. Humcrush follows in the wake of such impressions with Thomas Strønen’s beats flitting angrily like a wooden moth’s wings at a lightbulb, threatening to smash it into myriad pieces at any moment. Ståle Storløkken makes an imperious entrance after a minute or so, his keyboard stalking high over the cowbell/cymbal/snare onslaught beneath. Strønen drums for Anglo-Norwegian quartet Food where he’s just as likely to be heard rattling chains as laying down anything approaching a regular rhythm. Storløkken, although a member of a number of ensembles including Generator X and Cucumber Slumber, is probably best known as one quarter of avant-improv giants, Supersilent. His use of a distinct sonic palette – frequently reminiscent of 1950s sci-fi ‘B’ movie soundtracks - makes him recognisable in most contexts. Humcrush presents nine studio improvisations whose striking shapes and percussive extrusions sound anything but extemporised. “Sport’n’Spice” is so wonderfully noisy that it sounds positively threatening. “In The Cave” could be a reference to Jose Saramago’s novel, but whether it is or not, the music begins in hushed prehistory and ends up lost in a future wasteland after travelling through the wheezing clockwork of a toytown industrial revolution. The fear that 40 minutes’ worth of keyboard and drum duets might be unable to hold the attention or sound lacking in any way proves entirely unfounded. Humcrush is chockful of astonishingly vigorous interplay at the same time as it assimilates the influence of oriental theatre music, techno, krautrock and free jazz in a whirlwind processional that’s much more than the sum of its parts.
Colin Buttimer
February 2005
Published by e/i magazine