(2021) Karoline Wallace - Stiklinger
Every artist’s album is, ipso facto, a personal statement; Karoline Wallace‘s second album, however, pushes the personal to the extreme. The Norwegian singer fashioned Stiklinger (“cuttings”), you see, with her grandmother’s garden in mind. For Wallace a magical place, the site grew from bits her grandmother collected throughout her life and from the rich experiences she enjoyed, places she visited, and people she met. Inspired by the setting, Wallace drew from her own family history and those around her to create music kindred in spirit, the result a collection of Wallace’s own “cuttings.” As the composer, her personality permeates the material, but the personal dimension is accentuated by the incorporation of childhood recordings (her father on a roller coaster in Hong Kong for example) and elsewhere (a melody replicating her childhood home’s phone number). All such aspects enhance Stiklinger by making the listener feel like a guest welcomed into Wallace’s world. The affection she has for her grandparents and parents resonates through the album, and one comes away from it buoyed by the experience. To render her vision into sound, Wallace recruited musicians she met while living in Copenhagen to play on the six pieces, with the eight constituting a flexible electroacoustic octet. Augmenting her vocals are Jonas Engel (alto saxophone, clarinet), Erik Kimestad (trumpet), Ida Nørby (cello), Thibault Gomez (prepared piano), Petter Asbjørnsen (double bass), Szymon Pimpon (drums), and Kristian Tangvik (cassettes). One naturally thinks of the players as analogous to the different plant types in Wallace’s grandmother’s garden in the way their voices intersect and in the range of colour they collectively generate. While the material Wallace wrote for the project was formally composed, it also allowed room for improvisation, and the results are as adventurous and explorative as expected. At thirty-seven minutes, the album’s a compact yet complete statement. She possesses a distinctive voice, as indicated by the monotone croak she uses to initiate “Rosehus,” which otherwise pulses emphatically. Like much of what follows, the track is a dense affair, rather collage-like in its melding of vocals, instruments, and family recordings. A shape does assert itself, however, one akin to a free-floating mix of experimental, folk, and free jazz. Unison lines flow through a swaying groove as the collective splinters into separate strands of clarinet, piano, cello, and trumpet. Denser still is “Tri loopår” in its blustery convulsion, though the intro does briefly give way to a quieter episode before reinstating an even noisier attack. The piece gradually reveals itself as a study in contrast, with turbulent passages and childlike explorations alternating throughout and Tangvik’s fuzzy tape textures and percussion sounds adding to the expansion. The album shifts from tumult to delicacy for “Plis Rosalin,” an initially forlorn folk tune (whose lyrics detail the myriad challenges facing a female farmer) that realigns itself into jazzier territory when Engel’s alto sax wails against a muscular rhythm backdrop. After excursions into experimentally open playfulness (“Om du e 1.60 høy?”) and a haunting, psalm-based meditation (“Ett er nødigt”), Stiklinger presents its most endearing track, “Nei, Karoline, nå kommer sola” (“No, Karoline, now the sun is coming”). Clarifying details aren’t included, but the piece as presented suggests Wallace integrated into this touching collage a recording of her conversing with her grandmother outdoors (in her garden perhaps?), with the gentle piano accompanying them making the warmth they share all the more palpable.
02. Tri loopår
03. Plis Rosalin
04. Om du e 1.60 høy?
05. Ett er nødigt
06. Nei, Karoline, nå kommer sola
Genre: alternative folk, free jazz
Format/Info: Free Lossless Audio Codec, 16-bit PCM
Bit rate mode: Variable
Channel(s): 2 channels
Sampling rate: 44.1 KHz
Bit depth: 16 bits