Review of Salt og Vind [12k1094]

Tartine de Contrebasse (FR)

We have all these bedside albums, cherished relics whose movements and timbres, colors and textures, are intimately linked to indelible memories. Solstøv is one of them. A perfect example of the ambient that transcends its roots, the cover is like the music it illustrates: floral and organic golden reflections that complement with absolute accuracy the crystalline arctic panoramas in the background. Like the echo of the icy and luxuriant visions of Pjusk, backdrops of the coppery protrusions of a trumpet with intoxicating heat. The sun above the dust. The fire dancing on the icebergs. A product of false oppositions as I dare not imagine them, which marked a period filled with existential paradoxes; the ideal soundtrack of these reminiscences, therefore. I am then inevitably delighted, eight years later, to find the Norwegian group at 12k, although in the meantime it has become the solo alias of Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik.

Salt og Vind will evoke Solstøv directly in the following chapter, through its exploration of two complementary elements. Salt and wind, tireless rollers and carrying currents. Where the twist of the last album married sonorities in temperature gradients, Salt og Vind condenses from density gradients: velvety aquatic atmospheres and stripping aerial particles combine thanks to marine iodine and concentrated oxygen, and infiltrate the airways to purify from within. We always find this lapidary attention to microscopic textures, details that nevertheless seem extracted from landscapes of dimensions well beyond our reach. Like an omniscient look at the beauty and the hidden frailties of reality. Even if I would already be happy to bathe in this universe with multiple points of view and ambivalent environments, it would be a shame to ignore some welcome particularities here. In particular the striking presence of rhythmic tracks, which will send me back to barely blurred visions of Circular and his panoramic compositions on Moon Pool. Pjusk will now take the pulse of the wild and sometimes violent nature instead of just listening to it (and it was already extraordinary), and transmits to us that deep in its soul, it is delicate, luminous and welcoming. Alive. See beyond appearances, or hear beyond appearances? And why not both, or more?

I feel a kind of synaesthesia with projects like this, where sounds, fueled by experiences and growing on dreams, metamorphose into pure surreal creations, at the effervescent intersection of the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain. The expressionist pieces intuitively draw in my mind the cliffs of Látrabjarg, Iceland. Projections of these walls with the air of the end of the world, immense, which embrace salvo after salvo the powerful waves of the western Atlantic, facing an infinite liquid horizon. The incessant assaults of the ocean that eternally collide with these mineral colossi, offering them in exchange for slow erosion a clear layer of sea salt on their basaltic epidermis. The sale, the tides, the stone. Smells, hearing, touch. Vestiges of this place that is quite difficult to access awaken in me, then spontaneously slide towards another fantasized island of elemental choreographies. Time suspends like our disbelief, leaving the floating condensation free to be observed through its own prism. The various collaborations give an additional thickness to the whole, from the spectral reflections of Olga Wojciechowska to the touch of amplified sensitivity of Porya Hatami; a human presence in filigree in the painting executed by the contemplated forces of the cosmos. Special mention to Uro and to the evasive poems voluntarily free of interpretation and understanding written by Nicolas Grenier, which send me back to the Sanctuary of Stone and Fire from Rayman 2: The Great Escape, between water and lava, like a half-hearted reminder word of the dualities described by Pjusk. Between maddening heat and refreshing breeze on the spine, between fascination and humility in the face of the environment.

“In the light of the world, everything is in shadow”. Ideal conclusion of this chronicle. A simple and strong phrase that sums up the acoustic science of Pjusk very well, both in terms of the contrasts in the composition and in the dreamlike regions that are detailed therein, always inviting Man into the interstices of landscapes that cheerfully exceed him. But that he will still be able to touch the impalpable by recognizing his place in the immensity. Stars and darkness, salt and wind, the two sides of the same mirror that Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and his informed public contemplate on either side of the ice.

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