The guitarist, composer and performer Kim Myhr, whose previous Hubro release, You | me, received the accolade of a shortlist nomination for the prestigious Nordic Music Prize, composed the extraordinary music and text piece pressing clouds passing crowds as a commission for the 2016 Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in Québec, Canada. It features Myhr on 12-string acoustic guitar alongside an expanded version of the celebrated Montréal-based string quartet Quatuor Bozzini with percussionist Ingar Zach (Huntsville, Dans les arbres) and the voice of the poet Caroline Bergvall, reading her own text.
“Inspired by meeting poet Caroline Bergvall in 2015 and the music of Robert Ashley that I was listening to at the time, I was wanting to make a longer, slow-moving piece centered around a speaking voice”, says Myhr. “The composition is in six parts, but the parts all blend into each other so that they feel like one slowly changing state of mind.” The result is a triumphant achievement where music and text appear inextricably bound up with each other, with Bergvall’s hypnotic voice and incantatory delivery acting at times like an additional musical instrument, while the string quartet’s stabs, drones and glissando slides provide emphatic punctuation and rich musical counterpoint to the evolving story, which is itself a complex layering of sound and sense, discourse and narrative.
Unusually, neither music nor text appears to have have the upper hand. While either could be appreciated on its own, to be read or listened to as self-sufficient entities, they seem to work symbiotically, one medium echoing the other as first words, then music initiates a fresh departure into a new movement. But ‘pressing clouds passing crowds’ is not a ‘setting’ of Bergvall’s words. “I had in fact composed all the parts to the music before any text was written”, Kim Myhr says. “Although I did have the sound of Caroline’s voice, which can be both brutal and empathetic at the same time, in my head while I made the music. After a few days conversing together in London, Caroline wrote words relating to the general character of the music and our conversations around it: something suspended in air, personal yet universal, a sort of sensual confusion of the subjective and the objective.”
Despite the music coming first, as it were, it somehow seems to share the overall theme of transformation through creating a series of distinct but related musical identities for each of the six movements, while at a macro level the whole piece continually evolves to become a musical analogue of transformation itself. Compositionally, Myhr’s music can suggest the meditative intensity of Morton Feldman mixed with hard-edged Reichian minimalism — Different Trains meets Electric Counterpoint, say — and a softer, south Asian-influenced lyricism. while The glue that binds it all together comes from Ingar Zach’s absolutely vital role as the group’s percussionist, moving ceaselessly from one instrument to another as he bridges the gaps between movements and narrows the tonal distance between voice, guitar and strings. “I wanted to take this delicate harmonic language I’ve developed on the 12-string guitar, which I’m at least partly indebted to Morton Feldman for, and bring it into a very warm, intimate sphere”, says Myhr. “The guitar itself helps create this intimacy, as it’s a domestic and intimate instrument that people often play in their own house, including their own bedroom. I think Caroline’s voice and words further emphasize this aspect. The listener is brought into the dreamy intimate world of the narrator, gently and floatingly shifting from one state of mind to another.”
In terms of subject-matter and context, Caroline Bergvall’s theme of transformation could not be more contemporary, although there is no easy, one-dimensional interpretation. Rather, Bergvall’s poetic method links the personal to the political and the universal, and the world of natural phenomena to social issues and processes, through pin-sharp images and metaphors that move from a train journey in search of a beach, to the outer limits of the solar system. Transformation here becomes multi-valenced, from gender identity and sexuality to migration from one nation state, culture or language group to another, partly paralleling Bergvall’s own experience of ‘belonging’. Half Norwegian and half French, born in Hamburg (in 1961), resident in the UK for decades yet with an international profile as a poet, academic and artist operating across normally separate disciplines of literature, visual art and performance, Bergvall (whose 2014 collection Drift drew upon the Old English text The Seafarer in reimagining the ordeal of mediterranean refugees crossing to Europe) places herself both inside and outside her developing narrative, as if part participant and part observer.
She also uses her voice to great dramatic effect, at times singing the words to create a ritualised chant, hymning “those who risked it all to cross”, or creating a vocal equivalent of concrete poetry. Accompanied by (or accompanying, for the distinction is never clear), the intense rhythmic repetitions and wild swirling strings of Kim Myhr’s music, the effect of ‘pressing clouds passing crowds’ is immensely powerful, building movement by movement into a suitably climactic conclusion.
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Toen de Noorse componist Kim Myhr in 2016 de opdracht kreeg om voor FIMAV-festival een passende compositie te maken resulteerde dit in pressing clouds passing crowds. Voor dit project laat Kim zich omringen door het Quatoru Bozzine Strijkkwartet en percussionist Ingar Zacht. Bovendien leest Caroline Bergvall haar eigen teksten voor, waardoor hedendaagse klassiek en spoken word perfect in elkaar vloeien. Via Hubro werd dit uiteindelijk ook op schijf de markt gebracht, en het resultaat mag er zijn. Tenminste als je houdt van ingetogen muziek, met een zekere diepgang. Waarbij grenzen voortdurend worden afgetast en overschreden.
Grenzen aftasten en buiten de lijntjes kleuren, merken we al bij “Passing Through”. De poëtische inbreng van Caroline wordt daarbij op een donkere wijze gecombineerd met weifelende strijkersklanken die je door de twaalf minuten doen vertoeven in een diepe trance. Op het daarop volgende “Days” lijkt dit in eerste instantie ook het geval, door de monotone manier van brengen van de song dreig je zelfs af te haken, tot de percussie van Ingar je op een bijzonder subtiele en doortastende wijze terug bij de les houdt. De percussie vormt eveneens een meerwaarde bij het daarop volgende “Things Dispr”. Breekbaar als porselein, maar subtiel toch ook de geluidsmuur doorbreken. Dit gecombineerd met die telkens bijzonder tot de verbeelding sprekende spoken word inbreng van Caroline, met daarbovenop strijkers die je doen zweven door de lucht. Het keert ook terug op “Past the”. Op “Future Present” worden alle instrumentale registers nog wat meer open getrokken, en vloeit nog meer perfect samen met die stem van Caroline. Vaak hoorde ik zelfs, zeer subtiel, Patti Smith haar beklijvende stem terug in de manier waarop ze haar teksten zingt op deze song. Diezelfde hemelse kruisbestuiving tussen strijkers, knappe percussie en een tot de verbeelding sprekende vocale inbreng als kers op de taart vinden we ook terug bij afsluiter “Burning”.
Besluit: Kim Myhr is een artiest die je zeer bewust geen gemakkelijk brokje vlees aanbiedt, de aanhoorder dient een zeker inspanning te leveren om het concept echt te begrijpen. Net doordat Myhr zich echter laat omringen door muzikanten en een poëet die eveneens houden van voortdurend grenzen verleggen en aftasten, zal een ruim publiek zich hier niet direct kunnen in vinden. Wie — zoals ik — echter houdt van zachte zwevende klanken, waarbij voortdurende buiten elke mogelijke lijn wordt gekleurd? Kan zonder verpinken deze knappe parel van een plaat in zijn of haar platenkast doen verdwijnen.
Jazz og improvisert musikk dreier seg i stor grad om å skape og utvikle egne stemmer. Fra første gang jeg hørte og blei introdusert for Kim Myhr (37) så har det ikke vært noen som helst tvil om at han har hatt noe helt eget å melde. Nå tydeligere enn noen gang.
Etter at han blei invitert av FIMAV festivalen i Victoriaville i Canada til å skrive et bestillingsverk i 2016, vokste det raskt frem et ønske om å samarbeide med den norsk-franske poeten Caroline Bergvall som Myhr hadde truffet året før.
Musikken blei skrevet først, men med Bergvalls stemme i hodet. Så kom tekstene fra den London-baserte Bergvall og den skulle på alle måter vise seg å «stemme» med musikken og Myhrs visjoner.
Myhr skriver som alltid langsom musikk. Musikk som er ustoppelig fascinerende og som inviterer oss til å ta bolig i den og bli der værende for å utforske dybden i den.
Myhrs akustiske 12-strenger danner fundamentet for «pressing clouds passing crowds». Hans repetitive måte å spille på, der bittesmå variasjoner hele tida skaper spenning, omgitt av Ingar Zachs usedvanlig smakfulle perkusjonsfargelegging og den canadiske strykekvartetten Quatour Bozzini, kler resitasjonen Bergvall gjør av sine tekster på et vakkert og særdeles originalt vis.
»pressing clouds passing crowds» er nok et eksempel på at Kim Myhr, i sitt unike univers der impro og samtidsmusikk finner et nytt uttrykk, er en musiker og komponist som har funnet sin egen stemme.
PS Dessuten synes jeg Trump bør avsettes så snart som mulig.
Lors de la chronique de son dernier album You / me, sorti il y a à peine un an, nous observions le caractère très productif du guitariste norvégien Kim Myhr, qui venait de sortir son album Bloom après avoir participé à de nombreux projets jazz expérimental au cours des années précédentes.
Cette observation était pertinente puisque nous retrouvons déjà Kim Myhr sur un nouvel album de son cru, et toujours dédié aux franges les plus aventureuses de la musique contemporaine. Et il va falloir s’accrocher un petit peu au pinceau pour entrer pleinement dans l’écoute de ce pressing clouds passing crowds qui révèle de nouveaux aspects de la Weltanschauung musicale de ce musicien pour le moins surprenant.
L’idée de pressing clouds passing crowds vient d’une commande pour le FIMAV, le Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville au Québec, une région qui possède avec la Norvège natale de Kim Myhr le point commun d’avoir un hiver interminable, et par conséquent de susciter quelques idées neurasthéniques en parfaite adéquation avec une musique qui ne l’est pas moins. Ici, Kim Myhr tient la guitare acoustique douze cordes et opère avec le Quatuor Bozzini (pour les violons entêtants) ainsi qu’avec le percussionniste Ingar Zach. Et n’oublions surtout pas la voix de la poétesse Caroline Bergvall qui va hanter tout le disque avec la récitation de ses propres textes.
De Noorse gitarist en componist Kim Myhr kreeg in 2016 als opdracht voor het FIMAV-festival (Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville) in Quebec, Canada een passende muziekcompositie te maken. Het resultaat kreeg als titel pressing clouds passing crowds. Zelf speelt Myhr hier op 12-snarige akoestische gitaar. Hij laat zich bijstaan door het prominente Quatour Bozzini strijkkwartet uit Montréal en percussionist Ingar Zach. Dichteres Caroline Bergvall leest haar eigen teksten voor. Die laatste ontmoette Kim voor het eerst in 2015. Samen met de muziek van Robert Ashley en Morton Feldman vormt het treffen met Bergvall de inspiratiebron voor het stuk dat Myhr wou maken. Kim schreef eerst de muziek, de teksten van Caroline kwamen er pas na een aantal gesprekken die het tweetal had in Londen. pressing clouds passing crowds is opgebouwd uit zes delen die in elkaar overvloeien en waarbij de gemoedstoestand langzaam mee evolueert. Zowel tekst als muziek kunnen op zichzelf staan, maar vormen hier één geheel waarbij de een al eens de overhand neemt op de ander. Het strijkkwartet zorgt met zijn glijdende glissando bewegingen voor contrapunten. Ook percussionist Zach speelt een cruciale rol als bindend element tussen de andere actoren. Myhr zijn betrachting om een warme en intieme sfeer te creëren schrijft hij gedeeltelijk toe aan het meditatieve en harmonieuze karakter die je ook terugvindt in de muziek van Feldman. De onderwerpen en context van de teksten van Bergvall zijn eigentijds. Caroline verbindt het persoonlijke met het politieke en het universele en de wereld van natuurlijke fenomenen met sociale kwesties en processen. Het krachtige geheel heeft als doel het effect te bekomen van ‘drukkende wolken die menigten passeren’. Als luisteraar ben je hier deelnemer en tegelijk waarnemer van deze uitzonderlijke creatie.
Appena apprezzato nel suo più recente lavoro il fertile e visionario compositore norvegese Kim Myhr, di questi non possiamo che rilevare la capacità di riconfigurare il proprio paesaggismo sonoro, rilasciando un nuovo album di ben differente impostazione formale, e di cui riuscirà saliente l’importante valenza spettacolare.
Condividendo almeno con il precedente You | Me le connotazioni da moto ondoso della concezione ritmica, questa viene piuttosto investita nel respiro e nell’andamento progressivo del lavoro, di tratto palesemente cameristico, le cui tessiture molto devono al tappeto sonoro imbastito dal quartetto d’archi Bozzini, formazione canadese dalla sobria e duttile timbrica, che per tenuta spettacolare si disvela non meno dotata né creativamente inferiore a certi quartetti avant-garde quali Balanescu o Arditti; l’autore e leader dismette (in apparenza) i propri investimenti sullo studio timbrico di chitarre e cordofoni per devolversi unicamente sulla chitarra a 12 corde con uno stile asciutto e luminoso, completando il sound con la sofisticata aura incarnata dalla vocalità fascinosa e magnetica di Caroline Bergvall, di pervasiva impronta sul lavoro, tratteggiato dalla discreta ma influente e immaginante linea percussiva, animata dagli estri del valente Ingar Zach.
Nei propri esiti il materiale si palesa di fascinosa strutturazione, fondata sulla calibrata combinazione degli interventi strumentali a sostegno dell’importante ruolo della voce, che ne autorizza una collocazione entro il più sofisticato songwriting di teatrante respiro (e ad esempio il mondo creativo di una Laurie Anderson non ne risulta molto distante); d’allure ieratica e carattere ipnogeno, il complessivo soundscape palesa il proprio stato debitorio con un certo mondo indie e determinate fasce dell’avanguardia di svolta, comunque guadagnando una forte credibilità in termini identitari, esplicitandosi nel suo complessivo bilancio con i tratti di metafisica ed animata installazione sonora.
Per il valore ed i tratti originali di tale musicalità, a questa verrà conferito un ulteriore continuum vitale, rilevando come la medesima formazione si riproporrà in una successiva esperienza discografica (l’annunciato Floating layer cake), stavolta per la leadership di Ingar Zach presso la di lui etichetta Sofa music; in termini d’arrangiamento e convincente combinazione di ruoli, il presente pressing clouds passing crowds consegue importante compimento formale e personale griffe di consistente dimensione lirica.
Initially commissioned and performed at FIMAV in Victoriaville, Quebec, pressing clouds passing crowds is a musical rumination on immutable nature and human disruption, composed by Kim Myhr, the Norwegian guitarist whose strums underscore the narrative that ululates through this six-track suite.
Accompanied by Norwegian percussionist Ingar Zach and framed by the harmonies of Montréal string ensemble Quatuor Bozzini (QB), the music shares space with the idiosyncratic recitation by French-Norwegian poet Caroline Bergvall. Her distinctive phrasing helps set up a rhythmically charged program where her vocal narrative adds as much to individual sequences as the QB’s intermittently buzzing glissandi, the percussionist’s hand pops and vibrations, plus the guitarist’s string strokes and spanks on 12-string acoustic, which constantly move the theme forward. Moving efficiently through word images that range among simple instances of nature appreciation, chimerical retelling of dreamlike surprises, and astute allusions to political events involving refugees and dangerous water crossings, Bergvall sets up hypnotic sequences whose resolution depends as much on the feints and fancies of instrumental virtuosity as the players’ strategies depend on her verbal concoctions.
With its echoes of folksay, impressionism, stark improvisation and poetics, pressing clouds passing crowds is a distinctive creation which can be experienced more than once — which is precisely what can be done by listening to this CD.
Con l’andare del tempo e dei vari progetti intrapresi si è capito con una certa chiarezza che Kim Myhr sia un “animale sociale” — almeno dal punto di vista artistico — e che il suo ruolo ideale sia quello di orchestratore, di mastermind in relazione a parti terze che egli ha il compito di armonizzare, per quanto distanti tra loro.
Al di fuori delle sessioni impro con Mural e Circadia (entrambe a marchio Sofa), è con Hubro che si sono realizzate le più singolari e avvincenti crasi stilistiche, prima al fianco di Jenny Hval alla guida della Trondheim Jazz Orchestra (“In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper”, 2016) e quest’anno con un’ancor più coraggiosa incursione nel territorio della poesia recitata, frutto dell’incontro con la franco-norvegese Caroline Bergvall.
Con pressing clouds passing crowds è venuto a crearsi un equilibrio cameristico tanto delicato quanto eclettico, grazie alla versatilità del sodale Ingar Zach e degli strumentisti del canadese Quatuor Bozzini, principalmente affiliati alle avanguardie post-cageane di etichette indipendenti come Wandelweiser e Another Timbre, oltre alla loro stessa label (siglata semplicemente “qb”). L’opera nasce su commissione del festival FIMAV in Québec, motivo per cui è stato coinvolto anche il valido ensemble d’oltreoceano, responsabile del sound esile e filiforme di diversi passaggi particolarmente evocativi.
Nel mezzo di un’iniziale stasi melodica alla Feldman, simile a un’elegante vanitas pittorica, fa il suo ingresso la voce di Bergvall, talentuosa e visionaria erede europea di Laurie Anderson e Robert Ashley, che scivola da assorte descrizioni di paesaggi reali e interiori a monologhi della lingua scritta che riflette su se stessa, duttile e metamorfica sino al parossismo (“Thngs Dspr”, “Future Present”). Ma non si tratta di un timbro estraneo e autonomo, bensì di una cellula ritmica perfettamente allineata all’interplay delle altre tre parti — tra i pizzicati circolari di Myhr e le ipnosi primitiviste di Zach — in un enfatico saliscendi atmosferico che avvicenda regolarmente episodi meditativi, quasi onirici, e sgargianti fioriture espressive, risvegli della mente e dell’anima che nel finale si richiudono nella quiete orizzontale che ha dato origine al ciclo poetico.
Semplice nella forma ma denso e intrigante all’ascolto, pressing clouds passing crowds è un altro di quei progetti che danno maggior lustro all’orgogliosa diversità musicale che anima la fucina Hubro, sempre più ramificata ma in pochi casi attraversata da connubi artistici pregnanti come quelli che portano la firma di Kim Myhr, ambizioso e infaticabile nell’invenzione di una nuova, autentica e tutta personale idea di free-folk.
Norwegian guitarist & composer Kim Myhr can do no wrong, and this album is probably his best work since the 2016 collaboration with Jenny Hval & Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Myhr’s 12-string guitar work is exquisite, often focusing on repeated broken chords in unusual chromatic voicings. Similarly his string arrangements, beautifully played here by Montréal string quartet Quatuor Bozzini, favour the perfectly placed dissonance of minor or major 2nds, and gentle hairpins. The great Ingar Zach contributes a myriad of unusual percussion, and the record centres around French-Norwegian (and London resident!) poet Caroline Bergvall, whose declarative style of speak-singing perfectly matches the minimalist/maximalist music. I could listen to this over and over.
If a new soundtrack for L’Année dernière à Marienbad was needed, pressing clouds passing crowds is it. Thematically, the collaboration between Norwegian guitarist Kim Myhr, French-Norwegian poet Caroline Bergvall, the Québécois string quartet Quatour Bozzini and Norwegian percussionist Ingar Zach hits the film’s pressure points: the slippages between experience and perception of space and time. Lyrically and musically, the six tracks connect with the images conjured for the screen by the Alains Resnais and Robbe-Grillet as everything about the album is fluid.
While Myhr’s glistening acoustic guitar arpeggios and insistent strumming define the music, drones, queasy see-sawing and stabbing interjections from the strings ensure an off-balance atmosphere. Zach’s piercing percussion enhances the mood of disquiet. Bergwall reads in a deadpan, distracted tone as if emerging from a coma. On second track Days, as the intensity increases, she begins chanting as Patti Smith had done on Horses. Speaking of being in transit, of belonging and transformation, her words take in an “unknown terrain where the ground is imperceptibly changing” and how geology creates a pebble beach. Even with seeming permanence, there is barely detectable change.
Myhr has said of pressing clouds passing crowds that his musical touchstones are Robert Ashley and Morton Feldman. They are in there, but the glide and glissando integral to his playing also suggest the new age instrumentalist Laraaji as well as the Estonian kannel. His last album, you | me, made with oddball jazzers The Necks and Zach, took five months to record. Its absorbing follow-up was composed for the 2016 Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in Québec but recorded last year in only two days. Appropriately, it seems that working with Caroline Bergwall has helped Kim Myhr recalibrate his awareness of time.
Few notions encapsulate the human condition more tidily than the notion of passage: of passing to different places or stages of life, or simply passing through in any of its literal or figurative meanings. On pressing clouds passing crowds guitarist/composer Kim Myhr has collaborated with poet Carolyn Bergvall on a suite of pieces touching on passage and transience in their many manifestations.
The music, which was written before Bergvall’s words were composed, is performed by Myhr on twelve-string guitar and Ingar Zach on percussion, along with the string quartet Quatuor Bozzini, from Montréal. In a structural allusion to passage the six parts of the suite segue naturally from one to the other, and feature repeated figures, ringing chords and arpeggios over insistent rhythms; for the Bozzini there are restrained drones and elongated, unstable chords with subtly rising and falling inner voices. Myhr’s penchant for repetition underscores the spirit of Bergvall’s text: repetition, as the recurrence of something that by itself doesn’t last, is simply the other side of flux. By the same token, Bergvall’s text is well-suited to the music: through images, anecdotes and aphorisms, she crafts an anti-narrative of what it’s like to experience the passing nature of things—in her words, to “move into unknown terrain where the ground is imperceptibly changing.”
Thirty-seven year old Kim Myhr is one of the leading lights of Norway’s vibrant and thriving experimental music scene and has been for the past two decades. During that period, he has spent much of the time touring, writing and recording, including his third album pressing clouds passing crowds which will be released by Hubro Music on the ‘23rd November 2018. This is just the latest chapter in the Kim Myhr story, and shows just how far he’s come since his early days in Trondheim.
The first time that many music fans heard of Kim Myhr was when he collaborated with Nils Ostendorf, Philippe Lauzier, Martin Taxt and Toma Gouband on the improv album Spin Ensemble, which was released in 2005. This was the first high-profile collaboration that Kim Myhr had been involved with, but certainly it wouldn’t be his last.
Three years later, on the ‘23rd’ of June 2008, Kim Myhr made his way to the at Hotel2tango, in Montréal, where he was about to record a live album with trio of Canadian musicians. This included saxophonist and clarinettist Philippe Lauzier who was joined by DJ and improviser Martin Tétreault and violist Pierre-Yves Martel. The resulting album Disparation De L’Usine Éphémère, was released later in 2008 and hailed as an ambitious and innovative album that combined avant-garde, experimental and improv. This was another taste of what was to come from Kim Myhr.
Next stop for Kim Myhr was Sydney, Australia, where he was about to record an album with Jim Denley an improv musician who incorporated wind instruments and electronics into his music. This was the case on Systems Realignment, which Jim Denley and Kim Myhr released in 2009. It was an ambitious album of inventive and innovative music from Jim Denley and Kim Myhr who would renew their acquaintance the following year.
For Kim Myhr, 2010 was the busiest year of his career. Mural, the improv group he had formed with bassist Ingar Zach and saxophonist and flautist Jim Denley released their debut album Nectars Of Emergence in February 2010. This was the first of four albums Mural would release over the next five years.
Just two months after Mural released their debut album, the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Kim Myhr released their critically acclaimed collaboration Stems And Cages during April 2010. This was the first of two collaborations between the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Kim Myhr.
Later in 2010, Jim Denley and Kim Myhr released Live In Munich, which was the followup to Systems Realignment. The pair also featured on their collaboration with Philippe Lauzier, Pierre-Yves Martel and Eric Normand, Transition De Phase. Both albums of improv found favour with critics, and rounded off what had been the busiest year of Kim Myhr’s career.
2011 started off with the released The New Songs’ debut album A Nest At The Junction Of Paths in February. It featured Kim Myhr on guitar and zither on a captivating album that fused avant-garde, jazz and pop. However, just a month later Kim Myhr was recording another album.
On the ‘4th’ of March 2011 Mural headed to the Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas to record what would become their sophomore album.This was Live At The Rothko Chapel, which featured one epic fifty-two-minute soundscape Doom And Promise. Live At The Rothko Chapel was released later in 2011.
By then, Live At Ringve Museum Trondheim 2011 had been released, which was a collaboration between a quartet that featured four of the top European improv artists. Kim Myhr had led a quartet that featured Burkhard Beins, Kari Rønnekleiv and Nils Ostendor during a concert that had been recorded in his home city on the ‘8th’ of May 2011. This was a proud day for Kim Myhr whose star was in the ascendancy.
As 2012 dawned, Kim Myhr was preparing for the release of The Unknown Knowns, which was the debut album by his latest improv project Muringa. Kim Myhr was joined by drummer and percussionist Tor Haugerud, saxophonist and clarinetist Klaus Ellerhusen Holm and tubaist Martin Taxt. They had recorded Muringa’s debut album during two days in June and November 2010. Fifteen months later, The Unknown Knowns was released in March 2012 was well received by critics. However, there was still one thing Kim Myhr had yet to do, release a solo album.
This changed in March 2014, when somewhat belatedly, Kim Myhr released his critically acclaimed debut album All Your Limbs Singing. It had been recorded over two days in August 2013 in Berlin, Germany and showcased a truly talented, imaginative and innovative musician.
Just a few months later, Mural returned with their third album Tempera in June 2014. This was their first album since 2011, and their first studio album since Nectars Of Emergence in 2010. Fifteen month later, Mural returned with a three CD set Tempo which had been recorded on April the ‘27th’ 2013 at the Rothko Chapel, in Houston, Texas. It was an ambitious, sprawling album that lasted nearly three hours, but sadly, Mural haven’t returned with a followup. Maybe that is because Kim Myhr has been concentrating on other projects?
This included Kim Myhr’s new collaboration with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, and one of Norway’s top singer-songwriters Jenny Hval. They collaborated on In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper which was credited to Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Kim Myhr and Jenny Hval and released by Hubro Music in July 2016. Critical acclaim accompanied In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper which was hailed as one of the best albums to come out of Norway during 2016. Considering how strong the Norwegian music scene was, this high praise indeed.
Just a couple of weeks after the release of In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper, Circadia a new multinational improv band that Kim Myhr was a member of, released their debut album Advances And Delays in late July. Advances And Delays was a live album that had been recorded at Fylkingen, Stockholm, on June the ‘26th’ 2014 and showcased the combined talents of a group that featured some top improv musicians. It was just the latest project that Kim Myhr was involved in during 2016.
In October 2016, Kim Myhr returned with his much-anticipated sophomore album Bloom, which was released by Hubro Music. Bloom certainly didn’t disappoint and surpassed the quality of his debut album All Your Limbs Singing. However, Kim Myhr would release one more album during 2016.
AJMiLIVE #13 was the debut album from The New Songs, an all-star improv band that Kim Myhr was a member of. They had recorded the tracks that became AJMiLIVE #13 in November 2014. Two years later, and The New Songs’ debut album AJMiLIVE #13 was released in November 2016 and found favour with critics. This rounded off the busiest year of Kim Myhr’s career so far.
As 2017 dawned, Ingar Zach and Kim Myhr were the latest artists to feature on the long-running Nonfigurativ Musikk series. Nonfigurativ Musikk #22 was a split album, with each artist showcasing their skills on one side of this limited edition cassette. However, only thirty copies were released and for many fans of Kim Myhr this is the holy grail.
You | Me
The following month, February 2017, Kim Myhr and Lasse Marhaug released their first collaboration On The Silver Globe. It was released to plaudits and praise and was the latest addition to Kim Myhr’s burgeoning back-catalogue. However, by then Kim Myhr began recording his third solo album You | Me.
Kim Myhr’s third solo album You | Me was released to widespread critical in January 2018. By then, this ambitious and innovative album was nominated and then shortlisted for the prestigious Nordic Music Prize. You | Me was a fusion of disparate musical genres, including ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental, Hindustani classical music, improv, Musique concrète and psychedelia. It was Kim Myhr’s finest hour. The big question was what was next for Kim Myhr?
pressing clouds passing crowds.
By then, Kim Myhr had recorded his new album pressing clouds passing crowds at Athletic Sound, Halden, between October ’30th’ and ’31st’ 2017. The album was mixed by Espen Reinertsen in October 2017 and mastered by Rashad Becker in January 2018. This brought to an end a story that began in 2016.
That was when Kim Myhr was commissioned to write the music and text piece pressing clouds passing crowds as a commission for the 2016 FIMAV-festival (Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville) in Quebec, Canada. The following year, 2017, Kim Myhr recorded pressing clouds passing crowds.
Joining Kim Myhr on 12-string guitar when he recorded pressing clouds passing crowds were Montréal-based string quartet Quatour Bozzini, Huntsville and Dans les Arbres percussionist Ingar Zach. They’re joined by poet Caroline Bergvall, who reads her own text on pressing clouds passing crowds and inspired Kim Myhr.
“Inspired by meeting poet Caroline Bergvall in 2015 and the music of Robert Ashley that I was listening to at the time, I was wanting to make a longer, slow-moving piece centered around a speaking voice…The composition is in six parts, but the parts all blend into each other so that they feel like one slowly changing state of mind” explains Kim Myhr.
The combination of Kim Myhr, Quatour Bozzini, percussionist Ingar Zach and poet Caroline Bergvall is a fascinating, captivating and successful one, and results in pressing clouds passing crowds which is an album of ambitious, groundbreaking and genre-melting music.
Kim Myhr’s 12-string guitar glistens, shimmers, chimes and chirps, and combines with sprinklings of different types of percussion and stabs, sighs, whispers, drones and glissando slides courtesy of the Quatour Bozzini’s strings. They provide a counterpoint to Caroline Bergvall’s mesmeric voice which will have the listener spellbound and captivated, as music and text combines to create a rich, complicated and multilayered album in six movements. Each movement on pressing clouds passing crowds is a combination of sound, sense, discourse and narrative and is part of a cerebral and thought-provoking album.
Interestingly, neither the music nor text dominates pressing clouds passing crowds meaning the listener can enjoy and appreciate each part. Each movement is independent, which means it can be appreciated on its own, and can read or listened to separately. Having said that, it makes no sense not to immerse oneself in the entire album and enjoy and experience the six movements as one gives way to another on to pressing clouds passing crowds.
What’s all the more remarkable about pressing clouds passing crowds is: “I had in fact composed all the parts to the music before any text was written…Although I did have the sound of Caroline’s voice, which can be both brutal and empathetic at the same time, in my head while I made the music. After a few days conversing together in London, Caroline wrote words relating to the general character of the music and our conversations around it.: something suspended in air, personal yet universal, a sort of sensual confusion of the subjective and the objective” remembers Kim Myhr.
Although Kim Myhr’s music came first, Caroline Bergvall’s text seems tailor-made, and the perfect accompaniment on pressing clouds passing crowds. It continues to evolve and essentially becomes an a musical analogue which is transformed during the six movements. It’s a captivating and breathtaking musical journey which has been influenced by various musical pioneers.
In Kim Myhr’s case this includes the contemplative intensity of Morton Feldman, which is combined with the influence of Steve Reich’s Different Trains. Add to the mix Asian-influenced lyrics and a percussive masterclass from the versatile and talented Ingar Zach who switches between instruments and adds an important dimension pressing clouds passing crowds. In doing so, he narrows the gap between movements and the tonal distance between voice, guitar and the string quartet. However, Kim Myhr’s role can’t be underestimated.
He reflects that: “I wanted to take this delicate harmonic language I’ve developed on the 12-string guitar, which I’m at least partly indebted to Morton Feldman for, and bring it into a very warm, intimate sphere: The guitar itself helps create this intimacy, as it’s a domestic and intimate instrument that people often play in their own house, including their own bedroom. I think Caroline’s voice and words further emphasize this aspect. The listener is brought into the dreamy intimate world of the narrator, gently and floatingly shifting from one state of mind to another.” That is the case throughout pressing clouds passing crowds.
Caroline Bergvall plays an important part in the success of pressing clouds passing crowds, especially in terms of subject-matter and context. Her theme of transformation is especially relevant and is open to interpretation. She touches on everything from the personal to the political to the universal, and even the world of natural phenomena. Still Caroline Bergvall has more to say, and deals with social issues pressing clouds passing crowds. Her use of imagery and metaphors is powerful and an instant Caroline Bergvall takes the listener from a train journey in search of a beach, to the outer limits of the solar system. It’s an incredible journey on an incredible album.
The combination of Caroline Bergvall’s dramatic, chanting ritualised vocal which is akin concrete poetry, is combined with rhythmic repetitions, sweeping, swirling, dancing strings and a percussive masterclass. Together they replicate pressing clouds passing crowds as this genre-melting album reaches a dramatic ending.
It’s safe to say that pressing clouds passing crowds is Kim Myhr’s finest hour, and the most ambitious album of a long and successful career. Pressing Clouds Passing Crowd is a career defining opus from musical pioneer Kim Myhr, whose one of the leading lights of Norway’s vibrant and thriving experimental music scene.