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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 249 - 12/14/16

Lawrence Scott Weiby
I Died For Beauty
Phonola

This is the first solo album from Lawrence, usually known as Larry. But we've met up with him once earlier, 15 years ago, as the musical leader of Draumey. That band went through many name and line-up changes and some of the other members of the group are present here as well. As with Draumey, the music is piano based, strictly composed and arranged, more and a little less of the serious contemporary kind. Though far from inaccessible for the uninitiated. There are melody lines throughout all the relatively short 12 tracks and once in a while some of them wander in direction of classical chamber music or pop. The arrangements can sometimes remind of the well-written and ditto rehearsed end of the Rock In Opposition movement as well; in particular Belgian Aranis springs to mind.

Apart from the piano, the music is dominated by saxophones and violin, with a bit bass guitar, drums, flute and tuba here & there, too. The subtitle of the album is Poems By Emily Dickinson Volume 1. So here are 12 of her more than 1 700 poems set to music by Larry. Two of them were also present on the Draumey EP. The arrangements have been changed, though, let's say they've been through 15 years of refinement since first we heard them. The vocals are mainly handled by Jørund Vålandsmyr, Dag Lothar Kanestrøm and Øyvind Bjørnsen. The latter used to be the vocalist of Draumey. Jørund is best known as a country & western artist in recent years. There is a tendency that his crooner abilities graces the most melodic and ballad-alike songs, whereas Øyvind takes care of the more demanding tracks, with a couple of exceptions. Dag Lothar's voice lies somewhere in between. He used to be Draumey's flautist and plays the exemplary flute here as well. (He is probably more known in the world of literature, as the childhood friend of Karl Ove 'My Struggle' Knausgård and I remember him as a competent young guitarist 30 years ago. But that's another story...) In the short "The Sun And Fog Contested" a mixed chorus takes care of the vocals that turns the song into a reasonably mighty affair towards the end. The chorus returns at the very end of "To Lose If One Can Find Again" to finish off the album.

What strikes me when listening to I Died For Beauty is the elegancy of the songs and the arrangements. The exquisite violin solo of "The Day Grew Small", the melancholic quiet piano intro of the title track, the humoristically arranged "I Like A Look Of Agony" with saxes and flute tending towards circus music in between, the repetitive details that interweave with the melody of "These Are The Days When Birds Come Back", the overall beauty of the title track (again) and "Like Rain It Sounded Till It Curved". I could go on; the list could be long. My favourites at the moment are "The Name Of It Is Autumn" and "Had We Our Senses". They both include breaks and interludes that remove the dynamics for a while until the beautiful song melodies returns. The latter, with whispers, something close to spoken words and normal vocals, is the only one with drums, of the discreet kind. A highly fascinating album. Though the songs of Volume 1 will last for many years to come I'm already looking forward to Volume 2 in what might develop into a longer series...? Volume 1 has been issued both on CD and LP and can be ordered from Larry's e-mail address.

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