Utopias – Radical Interpretations of Iconic Works for Percussion

Music Review

5 Oct 2018
Kjell Tore Innervik – Percussion
Utopias – Radical Interpretations of Iconic Works for Percussion
2L
Formats also available: Hi-RES DL
Hi-RES DL

I must confess that I enjoy listening to well recorded percussion music, which probably puts me into a minority. Back in the day I was one of those who didn’t treat the inevitable drum solo at a gig as an excuse to retreat to the bar. Instead, I marvel at the dexterity and co-ordination as well as the musical sensitivity of many of the great performers I am lucky enough to have seen over the years. Thus when our esteemed editor asked me to review this recording I did so very willingly (just steamed please, Ed.).

According to the sleeve notes this was an interdisciplinary artistic research project hosted at the Norwegian Academy of Music (2013-2017) in collaboration with the Oslo Academy of the Arts, the Oslo School of Architecture and S Design, Westerdals Oslo ACT and 2L through the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme. In other words, behind these 46 minutes of music there is an enormous investment of intellectual capital as well as the final execution by the musician and his producer

There are 3 pieces here. The first two are by the Greek composer Iannis Xenaxis: ‘Psappha - 2ndpersona’ and ‘Psappha – 1stpersona’. Both clock in at just over 18 minutes. The third piece is by Morton Feldman ‘The King Of Denmark – intimate’ which weighs in at just under 10 minutes. 

The recording was produced and balance engineered by Morten Lindberg, who owns the 2L label. The recording was made in Jar Church, Norway in June 2015 and June 2016. Lindberg is very committed to recording in surround sound using the Auro 3D and Dolby Atmos systems, adding height effects to the more usual 5.1 surround experience. He calls this the ‘Immersive Audio’ experience. As I only have a 2.1 system I listened to the dual layer SACD version which was included in the review copy, as is a BluRay disc with the full surround sound encoding. There is a very full explanation of the recording process in the comprehensive sleeve notes which accompany this release.

From a sound quality point of this is an astonishingly well recorded disc. It will most certainly challenge your system with its huge dynamic swings, and the sudden switches of tempo and volume. The sense of the acoustic of Jar Church is powerful, and the change of microphone positioning between the two Xenaxis pieces is very obvious.

Is this a disc that would go onto my list of most frequently played? Probably not, to be truthful. But would I turn to it from time to time as a change from my normal fare? Absolutely. Thoroughly recommended to anyone who wants to expand their musical horizons beyond the mainstream.

Chris Kelly