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CD Feature/ Bjerga/Iversen: "(Go with the flow) Like a twig on the shoulders of a mightly stream"

img  Tobias

„Best Of“'s are boring. They summarise. They repeat. They chop up integral parts into pieces. They drag on. In short: They tell you things you already knew and keep you from digging deeper in an artist’s dirt, suggesting that the music contained on them is all you need to hear. So what to make of this album by colourful Norwegian duo Bjerga and Iversen, whose outrageously lengthy title we are not going to repeat in its entirety over the course of this review to save you from falling asleep? On paper, there is nothing out of the ordinary going on, just a couple of tracks from here and there, a slightly more luxurious booklet than usual, some decent promo shots. And yet, „(Go with the Flow)“ manages to confound each and every notion you may have had about these artists.

Sure, it is a pretty straightforward compilation in terms of concept, collecting early ruminations culled from their very first sessions as well as semi-established ‘classics’ and juxtaposing them with unreleased material proverbially recorded yesterday. Considering Bjerga/Iversen's entire output would probably take you about a week to listen to from beginning to end, there is remarkably next to nothing of essence missing from the track list. There's the sixteen minutes of „The Trumpets of Silence“ and the two minutes of „Bleak Horizon“, an extract from the half-hour dronescape „There's a Ghost in the Dream Machine“ and of course a cut from their „Most things are made of Water“-release on Utech records – most likely the closest thing they came to wide-spread recognition until now.

On the other hand, how could „Like a Twig“ not fail to be incomplete? Some time back, the duo locked themselves up in an old lighthouse and jammed for days on end as if there were no tomorrow. Greyish drones, horrifying noise, microtonal clicks, a ceaseless slew of obscure samples, cut-up rhythmical loops and walls of feedback were fed straight into cheap mixing consoles and funneled to recording devices while gushing wildly out of the speakers as if someone had forgotten to turn off the tap. Luckily, there were no neighbours to complain. The outcome was later integrally published as a seven CD box, but one can safely assume that it still did not contain every single note of these sessions.

Stories like this one can divert attention from what Bjerga and Iversen are really trying to do. Which, as they now prove, is to create immersive soundscapes built from naive assumptions, naive methods and naive tools. Their approach can be described as playful manoeuvres in the dark, their music a spacey concoction of Electroacoustic Improvisation and Sound Art. There is a lot of exquisite granular texture-manipulation to be found on „On the Shoulders“ alongside bubbly bleeps and roughly edged metallic Cymbal rushes. Time is of no importance here: The process of performing and the act of creating sounds is the real creative idea of most tracks, whose frozen fixation in the moment hynotically draws its audience in as to avoid missing a single note.

The idea of meeting up, allowing yourself to be inspired by a particular location and letting the creative juices circulate freely points to an even more unexpexted tradition, however. „A mighty Stream“ is an album in the best of psychedelic traditions, carving great gestures out of minimal motives and considering nothing impossible in principal. Why kids are still sharing spliffs to Jim Morrison singing about his mother is a mystery to me when these cosmically enchanted pieces could take them there without inhaling.

The conclusion from all of this is clear: In terms of a traditional „Best Of“, the album has failed miserably. Yes, it summarises. It repeats. It chops up integral parts into pieces. It even drags on in some instances. But it headstrongly defies telling you things you already knew, suggesting there is a lot more music to be heard by these artists than what is contained on it. After listening to (oh, why not) „(Go with the flow) Like a twig on the shoulders of a mightly stream“, you will want to dig as deep in Bjerga and Iversen's dirt as you possibly can.

If you would like to dig in the dirt: We have been given three promotional copies of this album. All you need to do to get one is to mail us at with the subject line “Go with the flow” and we’ll get back to you if you’re among the lucky three.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Bjerga/Iversen
Homepage: Tibprod Records
Homepage: Gold Soundz Records
Homepage: Carbon Records
Homepage: Phantom Limb Recordings
Homepage: Ambolthue Recordings

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