In my mind I imagine Strjon (in modern Norwegian, Stryn) as similar in wild and pristine beauty to Preikestolen, a fjord near Stavanger on the Southwest coast. In summer when the water lights up fluorescent green, it has to be one of the absolute most beautiful places in the world. There’s a sense of this beauty, but also of that part of Norway’s desolation in Henriksen’s otherworldly instrumental pieces. Strjon, Henriksen’s third solo album (he also plays with Supersilent and Christian Wallumrod Ensemble), is an understated and complex affair. Silence surrounds everything, creating a sense of space and gravity. At the beginning, before a soft synth line is slowly built up, or at the end, after the confluent synths, bows, and muted trumpet have faded away. “Leaf and Rock” accurately showcases Henriksen’s beautifully lyrical playing, sounding now jazzy, now haltingly avant-garde, and now Eastern in tone. “Alpine Pyramid” takes this to the extreme, an intricate interplay of trumpet lines, building and releasing with complete confidence. If anything, in the disc’s variety of intent—now atmospheric, now experimental—Strjon bites off a little more than it can chew. The wandering electronic organ improvisations of “Ancient and Accepted Rite”, for example, sound quite random, and it’s difficult to place the song into the overall outlook of the album. Altogether, though, Strjon is a collection of beautiful and often engrossing instrumental compositions that hum with the places and feelings of the desolate environment of Henriksen’s youth.
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// Notes from the Road
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