Espen Sommer Eide - The Waves (CD Sofa)

Like a lot of us, Espen Sommer Eide grew up away from the hustle and bustle of a city. In a small town you are mainly exposed to mainstream media. If you want something different you have to look for it. In those formative years you are dependant on either word of mouth or hand-me-down artifacts to get a foothold away from mass media. This is no disrespect to Jurassic Park, pop music or their ilk, but to find something alternative you had to either stumble upon it by chance or be pushed in the right direction. As well as Sommer Eide’s exploration into alternative music he also found The Bloomsbury Group. That crew of philosophers and writers that included Virginia Woolf, Bertrand Russell, and Alfred North Whitehead. Their ideas of what a world would look, feel, and sound like were probably as formative to someone growing up in Norther Norway in the early 70s/80s as the music he found.  

‘The Waves’, which takes its name from the seminal Woolf novel, was created for an exhibition most of us won’t get to see. I can only guess how it would have worked based on a few images and the online description. The gist is that the album worked as a soundtrack to a house where there was art, and sound, instillations. Given the emotive nature of the music the whole thing would probably have been a wonderful experience, but I don’t know for sure. What I do know, however, is that the music on its own is a wonderfully rich experience.  

As well as Sommer Eide, the album features Martin Taxt, Mari Kvien Brunvoll and Elina Bry. Taxt and Brunvoll add improvised layers to Eide’s music, while Bry reads the extracts from Woolf, Whitehead and Russell. These readings add another texture to the recordings. It gives you something tangible to latch onto while the music gracefully billows beneath it.

‘The Waves’ is an album that you can enjoy on different levels. It gives a pleasurable experience if you have it on in the background. There are no surprise shocks or sudden jumps from its ethereal sways to abrasiveness. When you allow ‘The Waves’ to, well, sweep you away with it’s melodies and motifs you find it is an incredibly listenable experience. The tones created are rich and sonorous. While you may not know how this all works in regard to the exhibition you get the impression of tranquil experience. This is the kind of album that would have excited and terrified me I equal measure had I found it when taking my first tentative steps into music. It is filled with glorious melodies, but these are buried under broody atmospherics. However, like exhibitions, it works best when you allow yourself to concentrate on its minute details and motifs. NR.