12 Bilder, which translates from Norwegian as "12 images," collects a dozen innovative tone poems that composer Eirik Lie has created for various museum installations, art exhibits, puppet plays, theatre productions, and films. The works (including a few "unused" pieces) date from between 1983 and 1996. As a bonus, the 12 panels of the liner notes offer colorful photographs or artwork from the productions. With keyboards, guitars, and sound effects, Lie brings out a visual sensibility that enlivens every piece with a musical space, a mood, and some action. The first piece, a Norse mythological trilogy called "Hugin and Munin," gets moving with a rowing cadence, marching, and signal horns. The middle section, "Labyrint," creates puzzling spaces with deep yawning echoes and dizzying sounds that whistle in different directions. The final section, "Balders Gravferd/Funeral Procession," offers a chorus of mourners, a single drum, and the easy splash of rowers. "112 Par Sko/111 Pairs of Shoes" commemorates the 112 victims of a landslide (a photo of the artistic installation is shown in the liner notes); for this piece, Lie used only an electric guitar with no overdubs to create a massive wall of sound, the swoosh of land, and the tiny squealings of the victims. Several pieces for puppet productions combine both the jerkiness and the grace of the movements of string puppets. The three-section "Ravner" jumps around comically in a windy rainstorm, squawking with mock authority. Lie's pieces are totally unique, with compelling melodies enriching the "just right" musical settings. Very enjoyable; 12 Bilder will entice you to repeated listenings.
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AllMusic Review by Carol Wright