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Jo Berger Myhre and Ólafur Björn Ólafsson – The Third Script


Jo Berger Myhre and Ólafur Björn Ólafsson - The Third Script

In comparison to the light wash of our reality that accompanied the Håkon Stene and Kristine Tjøgersen‘s recent album for Hubro, The Third Script combines the talents of Norwegian bassist Jo Berger Myhre and Icelandic drummer Olafur Bjorn Olafsson and spends time constructing an alternate reality, something which takes reference from its place of recording but then pushes it into new realms.

Their studio is situated in Reykjavik in an abandoned warehouse and somehow the album becomes suffused not only with an air of grey morning melancholy, but a strange heightened drama, as if we were tracking the movements of some dark energy headed for land under the cover of sea mist, lonely and searching.

With four long tracks taking up a little under forty minutes, the duo are happy to allow them to unfold at their own pace, for their singular atmosphere to gently unravel from the speakers and haunt our rooms and our heads. Using double bass, drums and electronics and keyboards, the majority of the album is improvised and a track per day was recorded naturally, and that spontaneity goes someway to explaining the overall appeal of the vibe they have managed to capture.

“1000%” has a very slow and sombre opening, the slow-marching drums, melodramatic horns and shuffling percussion give an ethereal, ghostly and almost macabre ambience, footsteps measured and dreadful. Shadows lurk around corners and in dark doorways, keeping you forever looking over your shoulder as the church organ stabs and curling double bass gain in confidence and find you fleeing from something only your imagination can feel. We can see that blasted Icelandic landscape through dirty windows and although it is not entirely a product of its environment, that sense of cold and space can’t help but infuse the work here.

As the album progresses, so the dramatic sensations seem to increase; the foghorn mist of the title track that follows a solitary organ note slowly reveals a parade of mourning vessels out in the harbour, awaiting the sunrise on a gloomy summer morning, the fog drifting and circling like wreaths of wood smoke. There is peace here, but mystery too, a double bass winding sensuously like tendrils around our imagination gives us a warning of things to come and that change comes in “Orifice”, where the sounds of flames engulfing paper lend an air of danger to the proceedings.

There is drumming at the forefront that lends the track more structure; gone is the ethereality, replaced by menace and purpose. There is an urgency that is forcing the listener onward. Is it an escape or a trap? Either way, it is an arrival of sorts that throws us into the cut and thrust, parrying and movement of the final track. As this swordfight envelops us, plangent piano seems to signify an ending of some kind and as the double bass churns, it leaves a maelstrom in its wake; unsettled, capricious, endless, questioning…

-Mr Olivetti-

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