SVERRE KNUT JOHANSEN: Antartica (2016)
“Rocking between tribal ambient, and structures of New Berlin School and Prog New Age, Antartica is something very good to hear”
1 Antarctica Theme 4:22 2 United 5:35 3 Ice Ballet 4:26 4 Whales in Paradise 6:39 5 Melting Ice 5:43 6 Adélie Penguins 3:59 7 Penguins on Ice 3:46 8 Solar Halos 4:31 9 Nature of Antarctica 2:51 Sverre Knut Johansen Music
(CD/DDL 41:52) (V.F.)
(Tribal Ambient, New B.S. Prog New Age)
Sverre Knut Johansen ends the year 2016 with an album as good as Earth From Above, released at the beginning of the year. In an atmosphere which feels hardly the ices of Antarctica but where chime chords wrapped of ice, ANTARTICA rocks between tribal ambient, ambient and rhythms of the world, otherwise very electronic rock, which are caramelized by a good synth-pop. In spite of this pallet of the styles, Sverre Knut Johansen adores laying down his influences here which we guess easily of Michael Stearns and Erik Wollo, in particular with a very spectral guitar, with a thought for Vangelis and Eddie Jobson. Let’s add to this a production and a gorgeous sonic aestheticism, and we have here another album that we taste with the ears wide open.
After a more or less fathomless opening, Antarctica Theme puts the fans of electronic melodies sculptured in the uncountable possibilities of the synths in appetite. A suite of chords sounding as a duel of acoustic guitar is parading in a spheroidal minimalist pattern or like in a carousel which rises slightly before taking back its circular lineal figure. A line of sequences emerges towards the end, making its arpeggios glitter and oscillate as a shoal of fish which is running away from a predator. The approach reminds me of Michael Stearns. In particular, the M'Ocean album. United is a title which seduces straightaway because of its heavy rhythm which is mortgaged by good sequences to which are added the weight of the percussions. The music is alive and the rhythm, as fluid as jerky, is as animated as melodic. The sound effects and the spectral lamentations are at the heart of a solid electronic rock of the England style. It’s very good! These strange melodies which seem to result from a throat of an aquatic animal of the Antarctica obsess the heavy, slow and always finely jerky rhythm of Ice Ballet with a double movement of sequencer and with judiciously inserted electronic percussions. If I have a small memory which goes back up, that would be the tone and Eddie Jobson's harmonious rhythms in Theme of Secrets. A must have like one says! Whales in Paradise is charmingly melodious. The rhythm, familiarly heavy and slow, swirls lightly. The percussions structure a kind of rhythm of the world with a skillful game of the sequencer which frees its keys like a jet of crossbow. The harmonies, which are very catchy, are whistled by a synth which sings with its shadow. Another very good title and there seem to be more and more, as we listen to ANTARTICA. Melting Ice does more into an ambient tribal form, while Adélie Penguins is literally ambient, with a structure which grows in emotionalism and in intensity. The effects of harmonies on synth/guitar remind me the Scandinavian universe of Erik Wollo. Penguins on Ice is also fascinating, otherwise very near in rhythm and in harmonies, as United. The rhythm dives into the very ethereal and very Vangelis atmospheres of Solar Halos. A wonderful title that will raise your arm's hairs. And Nature of Antarctica ends this last Sverre Knut Johansen's opus with an approach ambient New Age music.
I did enjoy this new contact with the music of the Norwegian multi-instrumentalist. ANTARTICA possesses a crystalline tone appropriate to the works which depict so much the oceans as its banks of ice and Sverre Knut Johansen transposes it aptly into an electronic environment which can please so much the music lovers of the New Berlin School kind (there is some good filaments of sequences here and there) and of contemporary New Age because of a rhythmic approach as melodious as lively. It does good to the senses and the ears, especially by a beautiful icy Sunday.
Sylvain Lupari (January 6th, 2017) *****
Available at Sverre Knut Johansen Bandcamp