Bringing with them youthful experimentalism in their sonic adventures, Ensemble neoN has throughout its short life span established itself as a progressive, original and uncompromising group on today´s contemporary music scene.
Defying genre boundaries
Although rooted in the experimentalism of contemporary Western art music, Ensemble neoN easily defies any conventional genre boundaries, drawing on musical impulses and inspirations ranging from improvisation, soundscapes and musical theater, to pop and electronica. An inspirational contributor to the continually expanding borders of the art musical world, Ensemble neoN creates and performs works which cross musical genres and art forms, demanding flexibility and creativity. The album consists of music by Alvin Lucier, Oren Ambarchi & James Rushford, in addition to works by the ensemble´s own composers Kristine Tjøgersen, Jan Martin Smørdal and Julian Skar.
Vulnerability and defiance
The album opens with flickering light. As Jenny Hval writes in her liner notes, Kristine Tjøgersen´s “Travelling Light 2” might take place inside a camera lens, continuously alternating its setting allowing shifting amounts of light enter the aperture. The flickering turns into bigger fragments in Jan Martin Smørdal´s “My Favorite Thing 2”. Here a series of little themes or sounds overlap and build into a series of dynamic parts. The piece ends in impossible friction between two types of longing: the longing of isolated cherished memories, and the longing to transform them into a complete, larger body. In Oren Ambarchi´s and James Rushford´s “Monocots”, the pieces that make up the structure are larger, but airier, and each sequence is interrupted by a little pause before the music begins again. The music plays on, with a guitar wandering through a forest of half drones. As Alvin Lucier´s “Two Circles” start playing one is lifted up by the shifting frequencies of the drones, as if floating around in a room full of different overtones and resonances. And so, “Two Circles´” ritual sacrifice has crept over into the last piece on the record, the restless but precise “Kunsten å Tvile 2” by Julian Skar, an act of hopeful defiance and an unusually strong end point to a record that refuses to become the sum of its parts – it stays in complexity.
Formed in 2008 by Jan Martin Smørdal and Julian Skar, together with a group of musicians with a background at The Norwegian Academy of Music, Ensemble neoN aims to present music at the highest level possible, focusing on Norwegian and international works. The group and its members have already made an impact and gained recognition both as individual musicians and as a group at home in Norway – most notably winning a Norwegian Grammy Award for their collaborative album with Susanna Wallumrød, “The Forester” – and internationally, with The New York Times describing the group as “an impressive group” for their performance at the 2016 Mata Festival.