Crack Norwegian violin & double bass duo Vilde&Inga have been dealing intricate, counterpointed improvisations like a croupier deals cards since 2014’s Makrofauna (on ECM). That they have developed so nuanced a discourse this early in their career attests to the continuing health and longevity of improvised music and its participants. Silfr (SOFA SOFA559), their second release, sees further refinement of their forensic excavation across ten intimate and adventurous vignettes, where their range of extended techniques is a source of perpetual wonder: Vilde’s violin covers everything from brittle, ultra-staccato galloping to long, leisurely brushstrokes and a stroke-for-stroke synthesis of Inga’s sandpapery hiss on ‘Røykkvarts’. Inga’s mercurial undercurrents push the ponderous into precarious when the occasion demands, producing absorbing and alarming harmonic textures throughout.
The Norwegian tuba trio Microtub traffic in a more limited tonal and emotional range than that of SOFA labelmates Vilde&Inga, but their sound on Bite Of The Orange (SOFA SOFA554) is no less absorbing. Favouring only the microtonal tuba (C and F variants), they specialise in long, sustained tones which, individually, resemble self-attunement exercises but collectively come across with the generative ambience of a Brian Eno algorithm. Their temporally modulating solos each cover a narrow pitch range, but converge in novel formations through a heuristic process of intuitive interval-manoeuvring between mid-range blows and quasi-Tibetan, bowel-trembling lows; their first order of business being the production of deep-listening of the highest quality.