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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 240 - 03/23/16

Kristoffer Lo
The Black Meat
Propeller Recordings

Kristoffer Lo is a Norwegian jazz musician with tuba and flugabone (another brass instrument, looking like a trumpet, only a bit bigger) as his main instruments. He has been involved in Trondheim Jazzorkester, PELbO, Microtub, Machina, YODOK and a few more. He's also playing guitar and flugabone in the pop orchestra Highasakite, ready to launch their third album in a couple of moonths. Kristoffer debuted as a solo artist in 2013 with the album Anomie, including only one long minimalistic quite monotonous instrumental track with electronic treated sounds. In 2014 he wrote the work Savages to be premiered at Molde International Jazz Festival along with Trondheim Jazzorkester and assorted guest from the jazz, folk and pop circuit. It included vocals and ordinary sounding instruments and was released as an album last year. The Black Meat is his second real solo offering, Kristoffer on his own, and thus sounding much closer to Anomie than Savages, only more exciting, and miles away from Highasakite.

The album was recorded at Ryvingen fyr, the southernmost lighthouse in Norway. Tuba is the main instrument, but recorded and treated with electronic devices so it very seldom sounds like tuba. It's instrumental music, or more precisely sounds, and can be found somewhere in between electronica, ambient, minimalism, slow experimental jazz, noise and serious electro-acoustic stuff, but doesn't quite fit any of those genres. The cover picture and design looks similar to several historical releases from the German ECM label of jazz and modern music that might give a clue of what Kristoffer is aiming at. This is moody more than melodic, perfect to listen to at high volume while laying down in a dark room.

The album only includes three tracks. The title track is stretched to 27 minutes while the other two clocks in at ten and nearly nine minutes respectively. The ball starts with "Front Row Gallows View", the most melodic of the three. It sounds rather monumental while being minimalistic at the same time. For an oldie like me, it reminds of the last and relieving part of the title track of Pink Floyd's second and first post-Syd Barrett album A Saucerful Of Secrets from 1968, only much slower. The same short row of notes in the lower region played over and over, but with a harrowing high-pitched sort of short solo towards the end, probably when the hanging is fulfilled. To great effect! The second track "Anodyne For Annihilation" is the most acoustic sounding of the three. It doesn't sound like the pain-reliever the title suggests, it's too scary for that. Here the tuba sounds come through occasionally, though sounding closer to the foghorn of the lighthouse occasionally and sometimes like a drone'ish digeridoo. The title track is the least melodic offering. More drones in the bass register, scary agonizing incisions in the upper region of the scale not dissimilar to feedback and industrial sounding in the middle. Quite minimalistic, but the track develops slowly along the way. In William Burroughs' famous cut-up novel Naked Lunch the black meat was a drug. The track might be the soundtrack of a bad trip. Listening to it, and "Anodyne For Annihilation" as well, I get pictures in my head of fog and darkness outside the lighthouse and something ominous that the light ray can't detect. Maybe it's an omen of the catastrophe to come. Annihilation means extinction I've just learned.

To sum up: a slightly scary and highly fascinating album! Though not for the faint-hearted and pop-only oriented!

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