Despite its foundation in improvisation, Humcrush´s music is not quite jazz. Their sneaky, engaging tracks sound utterly of the moment, using all the gestures and timbres of contemporary laptop electronica while making something that´s live and fresh. The result is an exhilarating rollercoaster through the possibilities of electro-acoustic sound. 4/5.
The Guardian (UK)
Hornswoggle sees Thomas Strønen and Supersilent´s Ståle Storløkken combine electronics and percussion to produce a variety of styles, ranging from the defiantly funky to more abstractionist grooves, all handled with a master alchemist´s touch.
Plan B (UK)
Strønen´s drumming is exceptional, utilising the timbres and flurries of free jazz, the grooves of rock or funk, and the dead-on timing of a programme. ”Seersucker” sounds like particles bouncing around within a confining structure, like rhythm as Brownian motion. ”Anamorphic Images” has piano notes, sub-bass slides, metal clankings and woody accents rotating in eccentric orbits. It´s technically remarkable and fantastic to listen to. Storløkken has tempered some of his more abrasive keyboard sounds and the two lock into these compositions with an almost preternatural empathy, giving us an animated and agitated study in melody, time and motion.
The Wire (UK)
”Hornswoggle” is one of those releases that could have only come from the young, fertile, and inventive Scandinavian post-jazz (or something) scene. At times swarming, and nearly always engaging, it's another stunning release from the young duo, and another awesome album from Rune Grammofon.
This is what I've been waiting for, a proper belter of a record from those chilly fellows up in Norway; drummer Thomas Strønen and Supersilent's ivory tickler Ståle Storløkken. After a rather peculiar name change (the band now go under the moniker ”Humcrush” which was the title of their last album...) the two experimentalists have come up with a stunning and most importantly a hugely enjoyable collection of twisted electro-shock noise and insanely precise percussion. A marvellously developed and diverse album, these two Norwegians have delivered on the promises made on the original ”Humcrush” album and ”Hornswoggle” is one of the finest wedges of musical cake I've heard this year. Unmissable.
While Humcrush’s debut had the endless energy and friskiness of a young pup, this sophomore effort shows a strikingly more mature and contained approach, yet this is not to say that the pair have lost any of their original playful vision. It is simply more structured here and only contributes to Hornswoggle being thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end.
"Knucker" is a fantastic play off between the pair with Strønen playing some very nice jazz fills and Storløkken getting hyperactive on his keyboards. The following track, "Roo," is in complete contrast to the rest of the album with the drumming taking the backseat and the electronics leading the piece. As a duo they both compliment and bring out more from each other. I am surprised the album is so enjoyable because Supersilent are a group that I find difficult to listen to; I was expecting Storløkken's presence to be a problem for me. Thankfully this is not the case, Hornswoggle is extremely satisfying to listen to. The duo has done a superb job that is better than the work of theirs that I have encountered outside of Humcrush.
All the tracks are the result of improvisations, which is a big surprise for me, as it seems much more planned and organized. As the album progresses the music gets more a tad more experimental and stranger, but it always stays on the edge of entertaining and listenable. Very fine work.
Vital Weekly (NE)
It´s tempting to use the word ”perfect”....Byrne/Eno for the advanced....the soundtrack for 2006. 6/6.
Bergens Tidende (NO)
Great creativity....funky and groovy, carrying the mark of masters. 5/6.
Improvised pling-plong, sometimes groovy, sometimes abstract and minimalistic, always strikingly beautiful. Album of the week.
Bergen Studentradio (NO)
Lavishly pulsating and lively....smart melodies and rhythm patterns. 5/6.
The truth be told I´m not too enthusiastic about the music year 2006 so far, but some grains of gold have appeared, and this is definitely one of them.
Ståle Storløkken (one third of noise/jazz behemoth Supersilent) and Thomas Strønen are taking the Humcrush project to brilliant places I’m not even sure I can describe. While it’s hard to tell how much of this is scripted and how much is free improvisation, the palettes they’re employing make this stuff endlessly enjoyable, but even more rewarding is just how vital and original it all sounds, which I kind of hate myself for just typing, but that’s the kind of record this is. More amazing, though, is how Humcrush proves that creating a sound doesn’t mean creating an album that is eight different versions of the same idea. Like the best free improvisationists, the two musicians employ their instrumentation in the service of different ideas rather than employing an idea as a rallying point for instrumentation, and in doing so are squirming out the other end with a new musical language. It certainly rates Strønen as a fascinating percussionist since, even on “Roo” where his involvement is essentially relegated to snare rolls, he’s changing up the sound, not simply creating a trope percussive mood but playing around with it. Storløkken is also a master of textures, and while I sometimes don’t like the pure digital-ness of his chosen patches, his sense of melody in improvisation is stellar, and it is his joy that infects the album, drowning Strønen’s drumming in a sea of quirky melodies that sound delicious whether he’s tossing them from a distance or locked into the rhythm. Just fucking brilliant.
'Cyborg II' is an excellent introduction, rapid-fire bursts of breakbeat percussion beat out on acoustic and electronic instruments, Storløkken adding tough but fragile plinks and washes of texture. 'Hornswoggle' makes a louder entrance with harsh high-volume wails, but the free jazz pummel, here more acoustic, is equally sharp. 'Anamorphic Images' starts restrained, with glockenspiel twinkles sat beside rimshots andkitchen sink rattling but soon erupts into similar cacophany. There's surprise and glee around every corner with neither musician lapsing into complacent gestures, Strønen's melange of live and electronic percussion being particularly mesmerising. 'Roo' finds keyboards dominating, hazy, rippling lines slowly unfolding to lightly buzz with electricity. The final 'Cyborg I' is similarly subdued, a low drone bubbling to the surface while drums tinkle and tap, overwhelmed by occasional outbursts of searing synth whorls. Part free jazz, part 70s prog, part modern breakcore but very much a world of their own, Humcrush have crafted a rewarding album.
Resident Advisor (US)
Alternately delicate and muscular, vivid and impressionistic, Humcrush are well worth your time.