CD, Zang: Records, 2007
The idea for “Broken Line Remixes” was conceived one March night in 2007. After spending eight years putting together a CD of compositions for string quartet, composer Nils Henrik Asheim arranged a release concert for his original “Broken Line” CD. Consisting of four of his composed works recorded by the Vertavo String Quartet, “Broken Line” was punctuated by short sound improvisations recorded with the same musicians. Following the release concert on 17th March 2007, Asheim invited some of his electronic musician friends to record new music of their own over their favourite pieces from the original disc. The contributing musicians liked the result so much they collectively decided to release it; the resultant album became “Broken Line Remixes.”
The first thing that is evident when listening to this collection of remixes is that it is a distinctly experimental and sometimes abstract reinterpretation of the source material that often bears little or no resemblance to the original content. Sindre Bjerga starts things off with a track of two halves; opening with fairly low-key industrial grinds, metallic scrapes and weird electronic tones it picks up pace from the midpoint, introduces short passages of plodding beats, and takes on an entirely more sinister tone, the scrapes, whirs and squealing drones becoming more prominent and distortion drenched. Taking an entirely more rhythmic electronic stance is QRT with a tense, anxiously fidgety reworking that is full of nervous jittery energy with a hint at something darker within. Jan-M Iversen presents what is perhaps the remix that most resembles the original work, with the gentle undulation of strings droning below gentle electronic beat patterns and an assortment of glinting electronic debris scattered throughout. In complete contrast to Iversen’s remix is Anders Gjerde’s contribution. Gjerde works with deep bassy tones and sharp, abrasive fragments of digital noise arranged in abstract bursts.
HOH again delivers a track of contrasting halves; at the start it is spacious and consists of tiny fragments of sound that briefly head into power noise territory. Gjerde does something interesting, however: during the first half of the track he augments the dramatic expression of the original string arrangement with discrete electronic clicks and scrapes to enhance the atmospheric experience of the whole. Gjerde’s use of a woman’s voice repeating the same word over and over is disturbing at times, the mood heightened by the effect of the strings and the ominous electronic presence he creates. Pal Asle Pettersen follows a very similar path to Gjerde, but introduces a disorientating haze of swirling electronic sounds that fades away to leave just a looped fragment of the original string arrangement that is then accompanied by clattering static soaked metallic beats. Pettersen’s remix again has a lot of presence and atmosphere throughout its various phases. To close the album, all the contributing musicians took part in the final remix of the night. The result of this collision draws from all the other remixes and phases between the various styles already mentioned to create what is almost a suite of music within itself, covering everything from abstract noise to unnerving ambience.
“Broken Line Remixes” is an interesting collection of reinterpretations, although it is sometimes difficult to see where the original elements fit into the mix. Where they are utilised, however, the electronic musicians taking part use them alongside elements of their own music to heighten the cinematic or atmospheric qualities they exhibit. This works particularly well with Gjerde and Pettersen’s remixes but the highlight is the wonderfully serene remix contributed by Jan-M Iversen.
— Paul Lloyd