The dark undertow that floats through the music, creates both balance and a strong identity. Espen Sommer Eide is both playful and serious, and he manages to vary the musical content without compromising its direction and consistency. 5/6.
The new Phonophani album dropped through the door the other day and i eagerly opened it, gazed at Kim Hiorthøy's beautifully realised packaging, stuck the cd in the stereo and proceeded to grin from ear to ear from the opening noise way past the end of the disc. Phonophani make electronic music that sounds like the human heart, all the intricacies of the body are held within it's depths. The miss-timed beats of sampled natural sound is the fluttering of seeing that girl that you love walking towards you, or that boy that you want crossing the street. The hiccups and drones are giggles of times spent with best friends, and the washes of sound sit safely round you like being held by a parent after too long apart. Perhaps you're getting the idea now.
Phonophani's latest offering sees him exploring new directions dissecting and reassembling ”real” instrumentation via self designed software, in a sense masking the borders between the virtual and acoustic. As one might conclude from the album title, ”Oak or Rock” is a concept album of sorts, but rather than get lost in theoretical demonstration, Eide's music is imbued by a healthy sense of wonder and experimentation too often lacking in the generally sterile quarters of contemporary electronic music. Hopefully we won't have to wait another three years before the next installment.
Other Music (US)
Here we find playful expressions that use sounds and noises to create atmospheres and small melodic lines that glide in and out of the sound picture. The music is constructed in a cut and paste way into an expressive whole that I find very interesting. There are no obvious or traditional rhythms or melodies that the listener can hang on to, but by paying attention you will be richly rewarded and led into Sommer Eide´s musical universe.
In contrast to many of the other contemporary Scandinavian, Japanese and American noise artists, Phonophani appear to have a predilection for classical musical composition. A keen, emotive, and subtle sense of melody permeates ”Oak or Rock”, adding to the record a wintry, Scandinavian shimmer to that beggars comparison with Iceland's Múm and Sigur Rós. Though a typically strong release for Rune Grammofon, ”Oak or Rock”, with its emphasis on melody vs. gratuitous abstraction, is probably more accessible than many of the other recent releases on the label. Admittedly, it takes a few listens for the music to digest, but it's a worthwhile endeavor to be sure.
”Oak Or Rock” is seated firmly in a post-Oval, post-Nintendo world, a world perhaps looking for something more than the hollow self-sufficiency of systems. Instead, Phonophani's music successfully extends electronica's reach to meld with the multiplicity and playfulness of nature.
BBC Online (UK)
As on Phonophani´s previous album, ”Genetic Engineering”, a strong animist current runs through each piece. Using customised programs, Eide effaces the distances separating sounds from their sources: The result is an enigmatic series of brief understatements.
The Wire (UK)