Wednesday 25 September 2019

Skarbø Skulekorps

Joyfully eclectic music to set your mind and spirit free.

The force is strong with this one. An album that has repeatedly forced its way to the top of my listening pile through its downright refusal of categorisation and, more importantly, the infectious vitality of its music. Øyvind Skarbø is a Norwegian composer, an important player in the country's improvisational music scene, and formerly best known as the drummer in 1982. Having left the band two years ago in search of new musical avenues, and following a brief period of wondering just what the hell to do next, he comes up with this. Skarbø Skulekorps is a seven-piece group of musicians he's brought together to breath life into his recent compositions.

Inspired in part by the school bands Skarbø played in during his youth, where juxtapositions of genres were given little concern, the group have made a record where all notions of fashion and styles have been thrown up in the air. The random positions where they've landed are one of the record's main strengths. Similarly the notion of coolness, always over-rated in my opinion, has been disregarded completely. As in those school bands, what matters most was/is the playing, always the pure joy of ensemble playing.

The result is an album where free-jazz meets pop, industrial, electronica, lounge, exotica and disco. At times strictly adhering to Skarbø's well-planned compositions, with occasional improvisational passages and containing experiments in rhythm, texture, harmonies and timings. Expect saxophone and trumpet solos, over a backdrop of weeping pedal steel, vibraphone, synths as well as the more traditional bass, guitar and drums.

Skarbø Skulekorps is a record that can move from sounding like the soundtrack to a psychological TV thriller to the most joyous, globally-minded pop in seemingly effortless leaps. There are parallels with recent genre-flipping records by artists such as Karl Blau, Aquaserge and Melody's Echo Chamber, but Skarbø Skulekorps has a character all of its own, and one that makes for curiously compelling listening. Check out the video below for more details as to how the album came to be.

Click here Skarbø Skulekorps' website.
Click here for Skarbø Skulekorps on Instagram.
Click here for Hubro Records.

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