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CD Feature/ Lars Akerlund: "Ur/Volt"

img  Tobias
The primordial, the unpolished, the pure, the peeled-off, the purposefully unpurpuseful and the unpurposely purpuseful – these are the prime subjects of Lars Akerlunds music. His oeuvre spans many different genres (as Fylkingen Records head Daniel Rozenhall puts it) and approaches constant themes with different means and from various perspectives (as Akerlung might phrase it), dealing with everyday phenomena, thoughts, philosophies and physical sensations through music, dance and video. His relationship with modern ballet has been especially fruitful and “Ur/Volt” explores this liaison through two longform pieces.

Even though Akerlund’s name is the only one appearing on the front cover of the album, neither one of these works can honestly be seperated from the involvement of Per Jonsson and Björn Elisson. Jonsson and Elisson, after all, were head of the dance companies premiering “Ur” and “Volt” respectively and directly responsible for their choreographies. Even though the the music was consciously layed out to be functional both in conjunction with and independent from the dancers’ moves and despite the strenous and intensely deliberated remixing Akerlund has performed for the CD issue of the material, their creation was a reciprocal process.

This applies even more to “Volt”, for which scoring and choregraphing were actually synchronised. It is a method of collaborating rendered all the more intense by combining it with a train of thought contradicting the naive expectations of most audiences. “Volt” is a rhythmless piece, a drawn-out microtonal landscape composed of rasping noises and hiss, opaque drones and gently grinding loops, culminating in a thunderstorm, electrically discharching itself in a nightmarish vision of garish light and terrifying sound.

Dance is much more than an aesthetical proposition here or merely the bodily reaction to a beat. Akerlund and Elisson instead present it as a fundamental form of human expression, as the physical equivalent of poetry. Or, as Akerlund puts it, “For Björn, I make music that exists as a kind of matter, which the bodies of the dancers cut through.”

Even though it occasionally disassembles into stretches of atmospheric texture, “Ur” outwardly represents an antipole. A proud militaristic bass drum keeps churning out a stoic metrum, which Akerlund polyrthmically adornes with drum rolls, hissy hihat and percussive counterpoints, very much in the tradition of techno. Deliberately dehumanised, the piece captures the listener in a beam of stubburnly pushing common-time propulsion.

At the seven minute mark, it breaks down into a tribal horn blow, building itself up again from electronic ashes. The demarkation line between primitivite triviality and trancy purism is a fine one, but somehow, Akerlund manages to keep things engaged for almost half an hour.

Both works are spartanically sculpted in terms of sound design, presenting confined spaces and isolationist chambers in which a discourse can take place. The slightly uncomfortable feeling which arises while listening to them may well be intentional, as Akerlund has doted on his pronounced preferance for a physical relation between sound and performance – and, as a logical consequence, perception.

The absence of the visual aspect of the pieces has been compensated by an implicit message to the optical part of the brain, the choreography shaping itself in the public’s mind. Akerlund declaredly draws his inspiration from other contexts than music – it is only logical that his music should reciprocally inspire nonmusical associations in the listener.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Lars Akerlund
Homepage: Fylkingen Records

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