SATURDAY, May 7
10,30pm – Stian Westerhus @ French Pavilion (60′)
To know what you have, and to give all of it up – even if you know that it’s going to keep haunting you for the rest of your life. Phantom pain. Diagnosing what is the best of two evils – is what this album is about.
Amputation, the new album by Stian Westerhus, may be centred on dislocation, loss and melancholia, yet from such turbulent origins a work of life-affirming catharsis has arrived. His first release for House of Mythology is a triumph of experimentation and abstraction, marrying a fearless innovative drive with stark emotional resonance. It is the sound of a virtuoso musician throwing away both caution and co-ordinates and taking a dive into the unknown, with spellbinding results.
It´s music I’ve dropped to the floor repeatedly, maybe even on purpose. It’s music in a cracked mirror portraying the time it was created.
Stian Westerhus started his musical life studying jazz, his work taking him firstly to Middlesex, before his Masters in Trondheim. Since then, he’s worked constantly, touring and recording with a dizzying array of artists including Jaga Jazzist, Supersilent, Nils Petter Molvær and Motorpsycho, not to mention a series of solo records for Rune Grammofon. He has also made several commissions with Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and with South Netherlands Philharmonic. His list of achievements is as lengthy as it is impressive, ranging from a BBC Jazz Innovation Award in 2008 to several Norwegian Grammy nominations (Spellemannprisen, where he has two awards to his name). Throughout, he’s consistently found ways to create new paradigms largely via a distinct and innovative approach to the mediums of six strings, pickups, effects and amplification. Amputation, however, marks new frontiers for this always bold and intrepid pathfinder, encompassing a mission in which Westerhus’ ever-evolving exploration of his instrument combines with a series of sound worlds that seamlessly veer from tender melody to bracing electronic edifices of sound to convey a startlingly articulate speech of the heart. Soon to be presented as a 16.1 surround sound installation at Notam in Oslo, Amputation is a fearless and uncompromising trawl into the murky depths of the psyche, one that has struck treasure in the form of an album unlike any you’ll hear this year.
Thematically it’s about leaving what is most precious and sacred behind. About accepting loss, damage and defeat. About those moments when you realize you are on the very edge of life and society as you know it.
Text: Jimmy Martin, House of Mythology