If there’s a Rune Grammofon supergroup it’s Humcrush, the collaboration between Norwegian avant-keyboardist Stale Storlokken and percussionist Thomas Stronen. So the expectation, prior to listening to their third album Rest at Worlds End, is for meticulous improvisations with rigorous dissection of harmony and rhythm. They don’t disappoint, yet in doing so they somehow miss that spark of invention, of frenzied tangential discovery, that improvisation promises. Perhaps it’s because Stronen’s albeit virtuosic percussion improvisations exist in this nebulous void, sparsely populated by atmospheric keyboard swirls. Or that they too quickly take a back seat, as on the serene title track, to Storlokken’s simple synth-pad explorations. Still, there’s an upside to this more relaxed approach, and it’s that Humcrush almost do find that promised “rest at worlds’ end.” “Airport” echoes and plucks its way to some eerie, compulsive netherworld over layers of minimal, drone-inspired keyboard vamp. The recording of these tracks, though taken from live performances across Europe, is so clean and clear you’d be mistaken for taking this as a scrupulous studio construction.
// Notes from the Road
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