Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset has contributed to a number of influential ECM recordings including Nils Petter Molvær’s “Khmer” (ECM 1560) and “Solid Ether” (ECM 1722), Arve Henriksen’s “Cartography” (ECM 2086), Andy Sheppard’s “Movements In Colour” (ECM 2062), Arild Andersen’s “Elektra” (ECM 1908), Jon Hassell’s “Last Night The Moon Came...” (ECM 2077) and Marilyn Mazur’s “Small Labyrinths” (ECM 1559). The aptly-named “Dream Logic” is his first ‘leader’ disc for the label. With its drifting planes of sound-texture, built from layers of processed guitar, sometimes supported by subliminally-throbbing bass, and its otherworldly ambience, it attains an almost hallucinatory quality, underlined by its avoidance of stressed time. Rhythms are as liquid as Aarset’s phrasing. “Dream Logic” is an album of sound-painting which begins with guitar but goes beyond it, moving in mysterious waves. Jan Bang, who is co-composer of a number of the pieces, also contributes sounds and samples, and was the recording producer for sessions at Tjernsbråten, Punkt and Rainbow Studios, aided by frequent collaborator Erik Honoré.
In the pieces heard here, Aarset’s guitar is the starting point, with guitar lines, melodies and textures slowly opened up through the discreet use of samples and programming, developing and expanding the emotional core of the material. Transition points between guitar and electronics are blurred; one is an extension of the other. And Aarset has long since learned to make musical use of his pedals and effects boxes, applying delays and feedback to create a very singing line, ricocheting in a reverberant hall of mirrors to create a sense of deep space. Associations abound: the dark drones of the album’s longest piece, “The Beauty of Decay”, for instance, might suggest affinities with Indian vocal music or perhaps with the world of the Indian-inspired Jon Hassell, whom Aarset has acknowledged as an important source.
Like many guitarists of his generation Eivind (born 1961 in Drøbak, Norway) was first influenced by rock players, Jimi Hendrix above all. By the mid-1970s electric jazz caught his attention, especially Miles Davis’s “Agharta” album with the fiercely-distorted lead guitar of Pete Cosey raging around Miles electric trumpet. Aarset was also listening to ECM’s early albums, especially those of Terje Rypdal and Jan Garbarek.
After a period on the road as a heavy rock guitarist, Aarset worked prolifically as a session player, appearing on more than 150 albums in this capacity for both Norwegian and international productions. It was on the session circuit that he first encountered Bugge Wesseltoft and Nils Petter Molvær. In 1997, Molvær and Aarset joined Marilyn Mazur’s band, and recorded “Small Labyrinths” for ECM. The bigger news that year, however, was the release of “Khmer”, Molvær’s genre-changing album, which featured plenty of Eivind’s exploratory guitar, now weaving its way between free-running samples, programmed beats and turntable scratching. Inside the Molvær band, Aarset had plenty of freedom to develop his textural guitar playing, further showcased on his own discs on Wesseltoft’s Jazzland label including “Électronique Noir”, “Connected”, “Sonic Codex” and “Live Extracts”.
Aarset will be playing quartet arrangements of pieces from “Dream Logic” on tour with his band in the coming months. Dates include Kosice, Slovakia (November 10), Tilburg, Netherlands (November 13), Cologne (November 14), Essen (November 15), Bielefeld (November 16), Rotterdam (November 17), Berne (November 18), Zürich (November 19), Prague (November 21), Salzburg (November 23).More details at www.ecmrecords.com
Eivind Aarset can also be heard on “Mercurial Balm” (ECM 2269) the new album by Food, the improvising project of drummer Thomas Strønen and saxophonist Iain Ballamy, released in November in Europe and early 2013 in the US.