Despite the Swedish label for which this disc was recorded, and despite the Swedish origins of the group's leader, the Dowland Consort is English. It has a lot of competition in the realm of instrumental music by John Dowland, but less so for the seven linked pieces that open the program, based on the material used in the famous lute song Seven Teares. (This disc was originally recorded in 1985.) These seven pieces (and the pair of sevens would have had deep significance for Dowland's audience) are unique in Renaissance instrumental music.
Arve Henriksen's follow-up to his first solo CD, Sakuteiki, Chiaroscuro sees him exploring the same ethereal pastures, this time accompanied by sampling artist Jan Bang and percussionist Audun Kleive. As a result, the album has of course a fuller, busier sound, although the increment is discreet. Slightly closer in style to the softer moments of Supersilent, the album remains nonetheless the recognizable successor of Sakuteiki. Henriksen's trumpet is the heart and soul of the music, uttering simple slow-paced themes and lonesome calls. The artist sings wordless melodies, his falsetto voice becoming an extension of the trumpet, instead of the other way around.
Sometimes it's best not to predict. If the idea of expanding Fire!'s core trio of saxophonist/electric pianist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werlin into Fire! Orchestra's massive, 28-piece behemoth was based on the trio's extant discography— You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago (Rune Grammofon, 2009), Unreleased (Rune Grammofon, 2011), and In the Mouth of a Hand Rune Grammofon, 2012)—then a relentless album of high energy and high volume density would be expected. Which makes Exit! a complete and utter surprise, and in the best possible way.
Places of Worship signals trumpeter and composer Arve Henriksen's return to Rune Grammophon and furthers his collaboration with both Jan Bang and Erik Honoré. Here his experimentations with sound, space, and texture offer listening environments that reflect various sacred spaces the world over, hence its title. While these tracks are impossible to separate from the influences of Jon Hassell's Fourth World Music explorations or the more murky moodscapes of Nils Petter Molvær, they are also more than a few steps removed from them. Henriksen never separates himself from the environmental information provided by his natural Nordic landscape. The lush, wild, and open physical vistas of its geography provide an inner map for the trumpeter and vocalist that amounts to a deeply focused series of tone poems.
Biosphere is the main recording name of Geir Jenssen (born 1962 in Tromsø, Norway), a musician who has released a notable catalog of ambient electronic music. He is well known for his "ambient house" then "arctic ambient" styles, and his use of music loops and peculiar samples from sci-fi sources. His track "Novelty Waves" was used for the 1995 Levi's ad campaign. His 1997 album Substrata is generally seen as one of the all-time classic ambient albums…