CD REVIEW: Terje Isungset and Arve Henriksen - World of Glass

Terje Isungset and Arve Henriksen - World of Glass
(All Ice Records 1409. CD Review by Peter Jones)

Somewhere out there, if there are aliens – intelligent, friendly ones – they probably make music like this. And if you can imagine the aliens working in collaboration with some equally intelligent species from our own planet, such as whales, you may begin to get a feel for World of Glass, by Norwegian minimalists Terje Isungset and Arve Henriksen.

Saxophones, trumpets, pianos, drums, 2-5-1 sequences and even conventional melodies are all distinctly lacking on this album. As the title suggests, glass is the key component: all the instruments used were made from glass by students from the Estonian Academy of Arts. The album was largely recorded in front of a live audience in Tallinn.

The project was Isungset’s idea, but the better known half of the duo is Arve Henriksen, whose delicate and intensely moving music on the 2004 album Chiaroscuro brought him to the attention of many in the UK. A trumpeter and vocalist, Henriksen has worked with numerous avant-garde and modernist musicians from Scandinavia, including minimalist trailblazer and fellow Norwegian Terje Rypdal. He has collaborated with David Sylvian, Laurie Anderson and Gavin Bryars, and is currently one third of a trio called Supersilent. He visited London in 2012 and again in 2014 with the vocal group Trio Mediaeval.

World of Glass conjures a weirdly beautiful soundscape, cool and flutey, with crunching broken glass sometimes used for percussion, and occasional deep bongs emanating from bowl-like objects. The music seems so meditative and unstructured that it’s hard to tell where one piece ends and another begins, but in fact there is structure of a sort, as anyone will know who has been lucky enough to witness an Arve Henriksen performance.

There is no point in getting into some arid debate about whether or not it’s actually jazz: it is certainly improvised. And it is certainly lovely to listen to. That’s all we really need to know.

LINK: Madli-Liis Parts' video of World of Glass / Tallinn 2011

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