issue 17 :: August 2010

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REVIEW: Taming Power

“Six Pieces” 10” (Early Morning Records)

Askild Haugland's two decade long solo project Taming Power has been documented on dozens of vinyl and cassette releases, mostly on his Norwegian based label, Early Morning Records. I assume these previous records were the steps, if not previous incarnations, to these six untitled drone pieces. Each piece is assembled from multiple tape recordings from 2002 to 2006 of bowed acoustic percussion (singing bowls are favorites) and other instruments. All six pieces share a similar murky atmosphere despite whatever different instruments are used. Part of this is due to a conscious avoidance of digital technology, from the use of cassette and tape recorders, to the vinyl only release. And it is not just a murky atmosphere, but also mournful, as if the music is seeping out from under a veil of death or ruin.
The press release makes mention of “immediate” and “free-form improvised psychedelic” music, but I expect more diverse results reading those terms. That's not meant to be criticism; the music is quite enjoyable, akin to a needed stare outside at an overcast sky. It brings back fond memories of European drone cassettes from the early 1990s. Only the last piece diverges from this common feel, the ubiquitous drone pushed to the background by a rain of bell and chime sounds, like dozens of wind chimes set off at the same time.
review by Josh Ronsen, photo by Tor Erik Gorud
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