Review of Solstøv [12k1081]

A Closer Listen (.COM)

On its fourth album, Norwegian duo Pjusk essentially becomes a quartet. Rune Sagevik and Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik focus their attention on the timbres of Kåre Nymark Jr.’s trumpet, while 12k’s Taylor Deupree contributes gentle electronic manipulations.

Solstøv is a slice of mood cut from fog. One imagines a deep mist, with shadowy figures moving inside. Yet whenever the trumpet emerges from the morass, these shadows dissipate. The brass declarations of “Gløtt” (featuring SaffronKeira) are as confident as an armed man. In contrast, “Diffus” sounds tentative and morose, moored in a harbor of beeps. On “Demring”, the beeps turn into bells and chimes, suggesting an anchored boat, a weathered hull, a fishmonger’s anxious cry.

How much of this is trumpet? Only Pjusk knows for sure, but the press release states that the disc “is made almost entirely” from its sound. If this is true, there’s another layer of wonder underneath, as deep as the bass of “Blaff”. Or is it a bass? That’s where the fun starts. We imagine the composers in the studio, performing autopsies on these notes, splaying them across wax paper, smearing them on glass slides, seeing how far they can stretch before they snap. And even when they snap, we can be assured that Deupree is on the floor, sweeping them into a dust pan.

The term solstøv (sun dust) implies not only the motes that tumble through shafts of light, but the flecks of distant galaxies that course through our veins. By breaking an instrument’s sounds into components and reassembling them in different forms, Pjusk honors this principle of reclamation. If the nature of matter is to disengage and re-engage, could not the same hold true for music? Even the cover art suggests fragments in motion. From dust we were born, and to dust we shall return, but in the meantime, we’re living in the great in-between. (Richard Allen)

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