Reviews RCD2211

Given the above details of this album's creation, the resulting music is truly extraordinary. In no way does it sound like it was recorded by two guitarists who had not met before, played together or discussed what they were going to play. Instead, it would be far easier to believe that it was the end result of planning meetings, run-throughs, extensive post-production and mixing. As with any soundtrack music that is heard without also seeing the visuals which inspired it, the obvious question is, "Does it stand up on its own?" In this case, the answer is a resounding "Yes"; Grydeland and Kaiser sound completely tuned into each other's thoughts and their playing could easily be from a pre-composed score, albeit an impressionistic one which aims to conjure up visual imagery in the minds of listeners. (Anyone keen to see the film and soundtrack together should find that a Google search of the film's title takes them to a Vimeo page with the full film plus soundtrack.) On "Roald Amundsen 1925," with extensive use of pedals and effects, Grydeland and Kaiser constructed elaborate soundscapes of sustained high notes over more menacing, lower-frequency sounds. By comparison, "To the North Pole" is a conventional duo with the guitar lines weaving in and out of one another. Like the rest of the album, both effectively complement the film's visuals but can also stand alone in their own right. In whatever way the music is heard, its quality is beyond dispute. As a soundtrack to accompany a film without dialogue, it stands shoulder-to-shoulder as the equal of such impressive soundtracks as Bill Frisell's Buster Keaton films or Philip Glass' Koyaanisqatsi trilogy. As music heard without visuals, it makes enthralling listening and will certainly stand the test of time.
All About Jazz (US)

Five tracks - with a total playing time of just over an hour - were selected for this CD release, which is a thing of wonder. As one might expect from the almost automatic process described above, this is improv at its most spontaneous and organic. The music - guitar lines weaving in and out of each other (as on "To The North Pole") or effects-laden low drones and high tones ("Roald Amudsen 1923") - is both powerful and starkly beautiful, evoking windswept, white-scrubbed polar landscapes, with "Spitsbergen" in particular conjuring up images of a chilly, elemental stillness. Although one can view the original film (with Grydland and Kaiser's new soundtrack) online at Vimeo, this CD works brilliantly as stand-alone music, and there can be no greater tribute to the two guitarists' remarkable creative chemistry and alchemical music-making than that.
Jazzwise (UK)

That this is a one-take score is striking, although the low stress levels that accompanied what began as a practice run possibly aided in the moments of brilliance heard across these five selections of spontaneous joint creativity. Having not watched the music’s visual inspiration, I can’t comment on the ratio of success in enhancing those images, but I can relate that I experienced extended passages of beauty and tranquility that registers as appropriately arctic. More surprising are a few spots reminding me of math-rock and Robert Fripp, with some shredding occurring late. Also, the film’s length is nearly two hours. That means they didn’t just dump the whole recording onto CD and then call it a day. That’s nice.
The Vinyl District (US)

Da jeg fikk høre at Rune skulle utgi plate med Ivar Grydeland og Henry Kaiser, begynte gitarhjertet mitt å banke. De to har på hver sin måte spilt fram noe jeg tror på, vist seg som smakfulle utfordrere og finstemte motstandere av stillstand gjennom mange år. På In The Arctic Dreamtime hører vi resultatet av deres første møte, i et Oslostudio i 2019. De lot båndopptakeren gå mens de improviserte til stumfilmen Ellsworths flyveekspediton 1925, og etter en økt på to timer hadde duoen mer enn nok stoff til denne utgivelsen. Roald Amundsens filmdokumentar bør si seg fornøyd. Det er både drama, snøfokk og pakkis i Grydeland og Kaisers uttrykk. Ja, den kjølige tonen avsetter rim og får meg til å kjenne på poesi. Begge er oppført med hver sin elektriske gitar, men meddelelsene overskrider denne tørre opplysningens bud til forventning. Lyden av hvit vidde og øde sus stiger fram i første spor, før det jeg tror er Kaisers gitar, reiser seg i forsvar for solide tradisjoner. Det låter kontrastfylt og minneverdig. Den som har vokst opp med feedback og fuzz, vil lett trives her. Så er det siget og den langsomme framdriften som henvender seg med sitt, og variasjonsbredden som får egenverdi gjennom fem stykker. Jeg liker skumringen i «To The North Pole», det litt skumle og avventende draget, og tenker at to gitarer på polferd hadde fortjent mer oppmerksomhet fra media enn de to som fikk det nylig. Grydeland og Kaiser bærer på mange gitarreferanser, uten å underkaste seg noen av dem. Dette er improvisert samspill med moden selvstendighet i frilynt drift.
Jazznytt (NO)

Stemningsmettet er også en passende beskrivelse på samarbeidet mellom norske Ivar Grydeland og amerikanske Henry Kaiser, hver for seg to strålende gitarister som for ett år møttes i et studio i Oslo for å spille inn det som ikke bare skulle bli et møte mellom to gitarister, men også soundtrack for en klassisk norsk stumfilm. De pekte seg ut ”Roald Amundsens  - Lincoln Ellsworths flyveekspedisjon 1925”, et 95 år gammelt dokument over et dramatisk stykke polarhistorie. Grydeland og Kaiser maler fram isende og storslåtte tepper av lyd gjennom fem spor med navn som ”Spitsbergen” og «Into the north pole». Resultatet er et vakkert og gripende møte mellom to gitarister.
Dagsavisen (NO)

HENRY KAISER war schon in den 80ern einer der erfreulich bunten Hunde. Erst auf Metalanguage und dann SST verband sich sein Gitarrensound, in dem er Derek Bailey mit John Fahey und Elliot Ingber verschmolz, mit Toshinori Kondo, Rova, Chadbourne, Sergey Kuryokhin, Zoogz Rift, Frisell. Er spielte mit John French, Fred Frith & Richard Thompson, buchstabierte das Alphabet crazy & backwards, landete auf der BA 11-Cassette. In den 90ern entdeckte er Madagaskar musikalisch, er feierte mit Wadada Leo Smith "Yo Miles!", in den Nullern weaselte er mit Walter, verbeugte sich vor Albert Ayler, Sonny Sharrock und Terje Rypdal, er lustwandelte stundenlang solo im "Garden of Memory" und war 2019 präsenter denn je - auf Cuneiform, Moonjune, Relative Pitch, ugEXPLODE und auch wieder Metalanguage. Und da waren ja noch die Pole und der tiefe Norden, von "Ice Death" (1977), seinem Debut, über "The Sweet Sunny North" (1994/96 mit David Lindley) als Trip nach Norwegen, bis zum antarktischen "Nostalgia for Infinity" und den "Encounters at the End of the World" (2013, zum Film von Werner Herzog). In the Arctic Dreamtime  (RCD2211) knüpft daran an im Gitarrendoppel mit IVAR GRYDELAND (von Huntsville und Dans Les Arbres). Als CineConcert zu "Roald Amundsen - Lincoln Ellsworths flyve-ekspedisjon 1925", der Doku zum Versuch, den Nordpol im Flug zu erreichen, der in einer Notlandung scheiterte. Mit dem glücklichen Ausgang, dass alle sechs Teilnehmer dank der unglaublichen Anstrengung, eine Startpiste zu bauen und eines der beiden Flugzeuge wieder flott zu kriegen, nach 3 Wochen heil zurückkehrten. Kaiser & Grydeland nahmen quasi im Schamanenflug daran teil, Kaiser nicht zuletzt mit seiner Erfahrung als Scientific Diver in den antarktischen Gewässern des McMurdo-Sund. Während unter Grydelands Fingern die Zeit gleitet wie ein von kälteren Zeitaltern träumender Gletscher, heult Kaisers Gitarre einen Gesang, der durch Mark und Bein schneidet. In der Sonne funkelt das Eis wie ein Kristallpalast, die Todesgefahr verschwindet hinter fragilem, plinkendem Klingklang, der sogar zu tanzen beginnt. Zierlich auf Spitze, nicht in plumpen Stiefeln. Gefolgt von entschleunigter Psychedelik im quallenden und flimmernden Flow schillernder Freak-Wellen, von Polarlicht überschauert, dunkel umwummert. Monotoner Puls wird gegenläufig durchschnitten, kristalline Widerhaken sprießen, und überhaupt rypdalen und hendrixen die beiden arktische Klänge wie zwei Schotten, die Schnee in 421 Facetten ausflocken, bevor sie [die Klänge] zuletzt trillernd und flötend durch die Schädeldecke pfeifen. Dreamtime ist das richtige Wort, und warum Drogen nehmen, wenn man - Dali hat es vorgemacht - eine sein kann. Der Pol-Überflug gelang übrigens im Jahr darauf, 1926, mit Nobiles Luftschiff 'Norge'. Three cheers - und diesmal nicht nur - for the dogs.
Bad Alchemy (DE)

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