[CD Review] Lars Hornveth, 'Kaleidoscopic' (Smalltown Supersound)

A raft of ambition crammed into a single sprawling track, Lars HornvethNs aptly titled Kaleidoscopic is an ambient-orchestral opus lasting just shy of 37 minutes. The Norwegian pioneer, best-known as leader of the Ninja Tune-signed Jaga Jazzist and the more pop-based the National Bank, here collaborates with a 41-person chunk of the Latvian National Orchestra, which is all the more impressive when you learn that heNs self-taught.

ItNs only his second showing under his given name, following 2004Ns Pooka, and yet Hornveth is able to work out many of his pet passions without spoiling the projectNs dewy organic vibe. The piece begins with tremulous tones broadcasting serenity, though a careful tiptoe of tension creeps in after two minutes. The instrumentation—with Hornveth on piano, horns and clarinets—is so smooth itNs not always easy to discern when one instrument slips out of the mix and another slips in, contributing to the dreamy sense of transcendence.

Following the collective prettiness of the billows and breezes of its opening few sections, Kaleidoscopic turns to plinking electronics 10 minutes in, and soon after, it adopts an ominous undercurrent (think a sonar-crafted ode to the Jaws theme) as well as more lush ambience. Later, things get excitedly skittish before settling into a complex array of sounds that add up to a contagious, joyful vibrancy. Among it all, there are beach-y sheens that fans of Tortoise and the High Llamas should delight in.

The piece pauses for several seconds before its final three minutes, which function as a sort of epilogue. ItNs quiet and twinkling, like a planetarium shutting down for the night. And like the rest of this one-off marvel, itNs soulful and thrilling, both buoyant and at sea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *