Coming hard on the heels of 1/1, 2013’s meaty techno ambient duo affair with Moritz von Oswald, Switch shares its predecessor’s darkness but instead opens with a slow John Barry-type Ipcress File crime flick atmosphere that summons the aching trumpet of the futurejazz pioneer from the gloomiest of lairs to bare his soul on the gorgeous title track. An über studio affair, with an Americana twist as it turns out, drummer Erland Dahlen co-produces and finds himself in an enhanced multi-instrumentalist role, while guitarist Geir Sundstøl, the joker in the pack via pedal steel particularly, is the dramatic foil. Against the considerable odds this multi-layered concept works. Pianist Morten Qvenild (In The Country) and Jon Marius Aareskjold with additional programming further provide lots of fluffy harmonic layers and textures to further up the ante.
Nothing quite lives up to the opener although I don’t think that matters as a special tune is a special tune. But ‘The Kit’ comes close with its tribal feel and throbbing electronics that give the track a dance energy, never that far away on a Nils Petter Molvær record. But it’s also cool not to dance. And ‘Intrusion I’ finds Sundstøl’s Americana role emerging to slow everything up on what becomes a lonely elegy of some stature. ‘Quiet Corners’ isn’t one of the more compelling tracks, but if you’re looking for development and trying to pinpoint how NPM and the band manage to transform invisible textures into dance floor fodder then ‘Strange Pillows’ is where that process unfolds best although I’m not overly moved by the synthetic-sounding drums on this track. There are New Agey textures on the album and huge contrasts: the bluntly titled ‘Bathroom’ with boomy drums set against the fragility of ‘Intrusion VI’. And it’s that latter quality, compatible with the Joni Mitchell allusions in some of the tune titles, that prevails, on what is an inspirational album. SG