Here's a player that can snuggle as comfortably with the improv crowd as he can with the likes of Haino and Kurihara. He has the same dedication to coaxing alien tone from his guitar that Henry Kaiser had: he can sound more machine than man - as on "Music For Leaving", in which he webs sandblasted misshapes into a rhythmic weave as intricately baffling as anything by Autechre . On "The Antagonist" he sounds as though he´s triple-tonguing. His guitar. How? But the pursuit of new sound is more about finding expressive possibilities than an end in itself: when he rips it in the upper register, his instrument sings, piercing through the murk like moonlight on the fens.
The Wire (UK)
Stian Westerhus´newest solo venture is an equally amorphous display of impro-style electric discord and scratchy six-string expression. Rarely played in any recognisably conventional sense, his guitar instead becomes the source of a whole raft of feedback manipulations, seared amplifier flare-ups and some moody tone sculpture, each piece invested with enough personality and invention to make this more than just another example of noise-over-substance instrument misuse.
Stian Westerhus single-handedly recorded Pitch Black Star Spangled (RCD2099). However, so polyphonic and effective that more came out than a series of guitar solos. He underlines the lead voice with dark rhythm traces and covers it with a roaring darkness. Because the heading is not chosen lightly. Westerhus Doom paints on the dark sky with a wide brush. It's not just Nordic twilight, it's farewell music, a song of earthly inhospitability - don't tell me this is home. Westhus' bad news (Thy Gospel) is thoroughly Gnostic. Where The Antagonist rules, your heart becomes heavy like lead (Heart of Lead). In Sing with me somehow, torn vocal scraps circle, in 'The Antagonist' blunt loops and fluttering, distorted, shrill guitar sounds. At almost 12-min. The title piece only gradually comes into motion in gnarled, stuttering, croaking, choppy jittering noise waves, into which bright distortions whine. The shrill melody that finally emerges remains ultimately unfinished and goes unanswered into the pain of 'Trailer Trash Ballad' with its falling sounds. Then Music for Leaving mocked and detonated, so that the medieval fiddling of Empty Hands Mirrored Softly looks all the more gentle. The finale belongs to elegiac cello sound, electronically surrounded and as dissonant as the world is basically in tune. ultimately remains unfinished and goes unchecked into the pain of 'Trailer Trash Ballad' with its falling sounds. Then Music for Leaving mocked and detonated, so that the medieval fiddling of Empty Hands Mirrored Softly looks all the more gentle. The finale belongs to elegiac cello sound, electronically surrounded and as dissonant as the world is basically in tune. ultimately remains unfinished and goes unchecked into the pain of 'Trailer Trash Ballad' with its falling sounds. Then Music for Leaving mocked and detonated, so that the medieval fiddling of Empty Hands Mirrored Softly looks all the more gentle. The finale belongs to elegiac cello sound, electronically surrounded and as dissonant as the world is basically in tune.
Bad Alchemy (DE)
That Stian Westerhus is not one of the normal standard guitarists becomes clear from the first second of this album. You won't find chords and harmonies on this album. Heavy, almost sacral sound pours out of the speakers, felt endless guitar loops, peppered with reverberating and booming feedback that seem to dissolve in crackling. What sounds like a nerve-wracking undertaking is made by Stian amazingly listener-friendly. Until recently he was associated with JAGA JAZZIST, the Norwegian now walks through the country with PUMA, the NILS PETTER MOLVÆR´S TRIO or MONOLITHIC (as a duo together with MOTORPSYCHO drummer Kenneth Kapstad). In January he was on the road with HELLA drummer Zach Hill. What is coming up to us will certainly not be an easy meal. I'm looking forward to it! 9/10.
The - routine categorically rejecting - routines from Supersilent are still publishing one magic bag after the other, and the next generation of Norwegian musicians are already at the helm. Also on the rudder - especially the 30-year-old Stian Westerhus, who is titled Norway's most exciting guitar artist and was probably not integrated into the new trio of Nils Petter Molvaer for nothing. Westerhus presents - soloed by rune grammofon - a solo album and one in a trio with the two Twentysomethings Oystein Moen & Gard Nilssen. His approach is characterized by experimentation and expressiveness, precisely applied virtuosity and a flair for short melodies. In collective with the two jazz conservatoire graduates, to whom you no longer listen to their training facility (or do they work so much more in the north than in our latitudes?), Westerhus obviously puts more pressure on them, but without ever wanting to copy music-historical ancestors. The trio most closely associates one or the other live experiments by King Crimson. But even this comparison with Robert Fripp's urge to research is unfair in view of Puma's offensive sound expeditions, because he was pulled by the hair of the hippies. On its own, Westerhus does not degrade the instrument as a material for self-mirroring, but uses it as a trampoline for jumping to unimagined heights (and depths). The little Hendrix cross-reference in the title will not only have been made by fun. If this can be generalized, After a long period of introspection, the desire for expressiveness seems to have gained the upper hand again. It is probably a pleasure that reflects the achievements of previous expressions. Perhaps the best example of this is Stian Westerhus.
Rock is also the model on which the Norwegian electric guitarist Stian Westerhus designs his sound poems. The nine pieces on Pitch Black Star Spangled come across as bold and averted from the world, completely lost in the noisily decomposed pieces like The Antagonist, then again, like in Don't Tell Me This Is Home, with all the emphasis of the confession, which was also kitschy and does not stop emotional turns. Only those who never liked rock music anyway will resent Westerhus, because alternating between these two extremes actually creates a new sound language that reconciles the subjectivity of rock with the objectivity of free improvisation. And you can
Stian Westerhus tilhører lands kjerne av eksperimenterende gitarister. På Pitch Black Star Spangled er han alene med gitaren, og det blir det innadvendt fest av. For selv om Westerhus fjerner seg fra strengeinstrumentets velprøvde uttrykksestetikk, så får gitarens iboende kraft og rampete potentensial godt med spillerom. Balansen mellom rå pågang, melodiøse brokker og abstract manifestasjoner fungerer original. It is en glede a høre hvordan klisjeene spiddes. Westerhus tar grep på nye steder. 5/6.
Når Stian Westerhus has a studio in a location called "Pitch Black Star Spangled", han naturligvis også hatt en mye större frihet. Han bruker den til å eksperimentere med gitarlyden for alt det er verdt, og føyer seg dermed inn i en lang tradisjon med sologitarplater. Tore Elgarøy (utgitt på RG i 2001) og Hervé Boghossian kan nevnes, men Westerhus er hverken preget av de store hvinende soloene på den ene siden, eller Boghossians complete deconstructed drømmelandskaper på den other. Is it "Pitch Black ..." and a lite monster som tar i bruk en del triks fra Puma-albumet (bue på gitarstrengene for eksempel), og utvider disse til et helhetlig og personlig uttrykk. 5/6.
Bergens Tidende (NO)
http://alternativenation.de (german live review)
http://www.allaboutjazz.com (in depth interview)
http://www.vimeo.com (video inteview + live footage)