CD, zang:records, 2009
“De Frie Elementer” is a live recording of guitarist Alf Terje Hana and vocalist Line Horneland performing as Sonarophon at Helgåleiren kunst- og kulturfestival in Ogna on 5 November 2008. Composed around a core of experimental and ambient electronics, their set features the six string skills of Hana combined with the vocal yet wordless voice techniques of Horneland. Recorded as it was performed, “De Frie Elementer” is comprised of a single 24-minute track split into a number of linked elements.
Starting out with a low rumbling drone and disembodied voices, the tone is initially very relaxed and calm, with an Eastern tinge to the proceedings. Although the deep subterranean grind crackles ominously to begin with, it eventually gives way to soothing guitar and gentle vocal tones. Everything is very steady, calming and relaxed until around the five-minute mark, where a sense of urgency starts to creep in and everything breaks down like radio interference, complete with static buzzes. When the music returns at around eight minutes the mood is considerably darker and more troubled. An extended period of buzzing static and feedback is accompanied by spectral wails and groans, while the guitar is harsher and more aggressive. The mood switches to a murkier atmosphere of shapes shifting in the shadows, ominous tones and grinding guitar feedback. By the fourteen-minute mark, however, even this dissipates and minimal ambient tones replace it. Odd little sampled fragments of sound are mixed with tiny organic sonic shards and a disturbing patchwork of sped up vocal fragments that conjures thoughts of tortured insanity. All this is augmented with some suitably discrete minimal guitar playing, resulting in an extended passage of edgy yet low key electronic ambience. To close, “De Frie Elementer” returns to the theme it opened with: a gentle, relaxing mix of flowing tones accompanied by some ethereal vocal melodies.
For a relatively short live recording, “De Frie Elementer” covers a good range of styles, from ambient to minimal electronics via dark ambience. Each style is approached skilfully although the transitions are a little abrupt at times. This, however, is a minor gripe with what is an interesting piece of music performed and recorded live, thereby captured for posterity.
— Paul Lloyd