The Woods By Night

Magnus Granberg is a Swedish musician who has been well represented in this country on the Another Timbre label, with a series of releases which Lawrence Dunn has praised; “each piece feels like a picture of the same world, the same landscape, but seen from a different angle.” Granberg usually performs with an Ensemble of players, including violinist Angharad Davies, or with his group Skogen. Today he’s here with a piece called Nattens Skogar (Version For Four Players) (INSUB. RECORDS INSUB.REC.LP.01), which might just be his first excursion on vinyl. So far it seems likely that Granberg is another advanced composer who, through the use of “open scores”, is interested in blurring the distinction between composed/arranged music and free improvisation. In his own words, “it’s collectively and spontaneously organised: even though the musical materials…are specified to quite a large extent, the organisation of the material within a rough, temporal framework is very much a result of spontaneous processes and choices.”

These speculations are also borne out to some extent by the choice of musicians he works with. Swiss improvisers Cyril Bondi and d’incise 1, both regulars in these pages in their group work and duo work as Diatribes, are here playing percussion, electronics, and harmonicas. There’s also the violinist Anna Lindal (member of Skogen and Granberg’s other performing group, Skuggorna Och Ljuset), while Magnus Granberg plays the prepared piano. Slow-moving, extremely precise music is the result of these calibrations, arrangements, and selection of simpatico players; every understated tone and percussive beat has its place in the fabric, is presented and realised with a certain deliberation. The subtle ever-changing repetitions and pulses are clearly the result of great clarity of thought and arrangement.

Nattens Skogar may be wistful in its mood, but there’s also a certain spirituality and a calm centre to the work; the music would be a balm to a troubled soul. While I can unequivocally recommend this to listeners who enjoy Morton Feldman (the fabric of Nattens Skogar is not unlike Feldman’s apprehension of a musical score as a Persian carpet), the specific influences in this case were the nocturnes of Erik Satie and a particular piece by Thelonious Monk. Excellent. (5/10/2017)

  1. Who are also the curators of this record label.