Ståle Storløkken / Thomas Strønen

Humcrush

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Impressive and fun: two words that sum up this first album from Thomas Strønen and Ståle Storløkken. Here are two great musicians who are often taken for granted. Strønen's drumming is one of Food's most defining elements, but fans are keener to point out Iain Ballamy's playing. The same applies to Storløkken's keyboard work in Supersilent, often overshadowed by Arve Henriksen's trumpet or Helge Sten's treatments. Humcrush sets the record straight on both counts with nine short, punchy, jabbing pieces (seven duets and two solo tracks). The opener "Acrobat" perfectly illustrates the skills that went into the making of this album -- and the pleasure the listener can draw from it. After a free-form introduction, a circumvoluted beat soon takes shape in the ear of the listener (it was always there, but too jagged to grab at first), offset by Storløkken's seemingly random jabs at the keys. The first few seconds sound chaotic, but very soon one gets the impression of a tightly choreographed mutant ballet. This will also be the case for most of the other pieces: tight compositions resting on oddly dancing rhythms and melodies buried within heaps of electronic effects -- in some pieces, the drums sound like a cross between acoustic rock drums and a cheap early version of an Octapad. The press release may claim that these have been "improvised live in the studio," they still sound like finely crafted, overdubbed gems of alien instrumental pop. The theme in "Pusher" -- and the complex electronic sequences being triggered -- simply refutes the idea of spontaneous improvisation. Then again, believe what you will, the music remains the same: inventive, bombastically joyful, and unlike anything either Food or Supersilent have recorded (although it veers closer to the latter's first release).

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