Alexander Rishaug: Shadow of Events

Alexander Rishaug, Shadow of Events, Germany Dekorder 053 CD (2010)

A beautifully tranquil and highly immersive recording that for me takes in the best of the more mellow aspects of Christian Fennesz, Biosphere and Tim Hecker among others: this is Oslo-based musician Alexander Rishaug’s release “Shadow of Events” on the Dekorder label. There is an air of crisp melancholy about this work; I can see a bright clear winter sky outside, the air is cold and dry, the sky all white or pale-blue. Snow and ice lie on the ground and sunlight is blinking off the whiteness. If I go outdoors and breathe in the winter air, it hurts my lungs a little and my breath puffs away into the cold. Yet my cheeks feel warm when I pat them. Yes, this CD has brought a clear Norwegian winter morning with it.

Opening track “Y_Kon” drapes you in currents of warm flowing sound, bubbling around you. You feel a kind of subtle rhythm in the quivering tones and soft discreet effects and tones that play around the main sound. The track is very like a stream of freshwater sounds all bound together like liquid beads all bouncing up and down and giving up their clear, glistening vibrations. “Drawing a Day” on the other hand is content to dawdle along, reluctantly yielding its gems and doing so quietly and dreamily. It is rather repetitive and in most parts sounds a bit like other quiet ambient droning soundscapes you’ve known all along and you want to kick it to see what other treasures it’s hiding!

“Garden Memories” is a lovely piece but I’m starting to worry that maybe the CD is losing its way a bit browsing a little too long in the landscapes it’s creating. It’s as if Rishaug and his friends, having conjured these winter fairylands, have fallen a bit too hard in love with these places and are in danger of burying themselves deeply to the point of suffocation when perhaps they ought to treat them lightly and let other people appreciate their beauty. “Solm” is an interesting detour into an alternative world of ageing and rusty machines.

The CD concludes with a spaced-out, warm yet slightly forbidding piece, “Magic Fingers” – a very floaty and serene ambient number with a bare melody and a not-rhythmic but pulsing rhythm. It’s lovely to listen to but all the same it’s repetitive and keeps spiralling around in its narrow comfort zone.

For casual listening, the music is adequate enough but if you’re looking for something that caters for both hemispheres of the brain, this CD doesn’t quite go very far: too much music is looping round and round in a rut of its own making.

Contact: Dekorder,