Music Reviews

Arne Nordheim

Dodeka

Rune Grammofon

Dodeka is comprised of twelve electronic compositions recorded between 1968 and 1972, on sojourns from the composer’s native Norway to Polish radio studios. While the Rune Grammofon label reissued many of his longer tracks from this period on an earlier release (1998’s Electric), this release finds many of these tracks receiving a wide circulation for the first time. Each track is nearly three minutes in length and, as such, allows Nordheim some freedom in exploring the range of sound, texture and timbre in these ambient pieces, without overstaying his welcome. Although recorded before Brian Eno had appropriated the term “ambient” for his own recordings, Nordheim’s pieces here clearly belong under this label. They are evocative of alien and ethereal landscapes as Nordheim’s choice of tones, chirps, rolling bass notes and shrill electric plinks all meld together in lazy patterns. Recorded long before computer aided digital manipulation, these early experiments in electronic composition sometimes sound a bit crude but they never sound dated. For this release, Nordheim, in his liner notes, indicates how the tracks were all assigned a title that captures the mood of each piece. It is part of the charm of listening to these songs to identify the characteristics that led him to call one track “Awaiting,” and not another. While a casual listener may not recognize the subtle shifts in tone and coloring, the attentive listener will recognize those elements (the haunting sound like wind being caught in old bottles, the distended chirps of birds congregating at dusk, the plaintive pings of metal creaking in deep silent depths of water) and begin to paint their own interpretation of these tracks. For fans of electronic music or experimental jazz, underneath the icy veneer of these tracks lies a warm and human touch that they will certainly find appealing.

Rune Grammofon: http://www.runegrammofon.com/


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