Tørrfall, self-titled, Norway, Den Pene Inngang, DPI1 limited edition vinyl LP (2023)
A new musical collaboration offering a new genre on a new label? Yes, I’ll buy that. Tørrfall is a new project formed by Norwegians Nils Erga, Kristoffer Riis and Thore Warland, all of whom have solid resumés in other bands (Burning Axis, Golden Oriole, Staer among others) over the past twenty years, to play what they call “psychedelic water music”. Tørrfall’s self-titled debut album is also the debut release for new Norwegian label Den Pene Inngang which, at this time of review, had just one other release on its roster.
Featuring four very lengthy tracks of atmospheric jazzy improv, the album presents a very distinctive musical landscape of softly buzzing drones that wash up and ebb slowly away while drums, cymbals, bass and synthesisers stake out markers to define and structure the fluid spaces thus created and to lead us through. The instruments don’t always do what you expect though: on one track, the drums might play out the melody while the bass and keyboards create an overarching environment of quivering buzz and massive space where sounds and echoes might unfurl; and on the next, the musical roles may be reversed. Yet the moods and atmospheres created tend to be consistent from one track to another: the music can be laidback to the point of languor, and a sense of the music being performed under a vast sky of swirling clouds of gases and liquids made up of continuously forming and dissolving unstable chemical compounds is always present.
Though you should hear the album in its entirety, each of the four tracks does have its own identity and you may prefer one or two over the others. They mostly rely on repetition to build them up into vast sound edifices and combined with the slow though steady pace, these tracks can appear to be slow in their development. Among the more accessible of them all is the intriguingly named “Du hviler ved din mors bryst” (“You rest at your mother’s breast”) with its repeating bass riff loop and prolonged synth droning, from behind which a human voice might hum and sigh. The entire track has quite an ambiguous air, the bass riff seeming edgy and tentative, the keyboard drones having a suspicious air and the voice sounding lost in a vast cavern somewhere in the deep sound universe. “Jeg vaker i ørkenen” (“I survive the hurricane”) has a clear bass melody that wanders where it will while the drums carve out their own secondary path and the synths glide along in indifferent majesty.
The entire album isn’t particularly long yet once you’re immersed in it, you can feel you’ve been floating among its drones and bass melodies since time began billions of years ago. The music’s flow brings you all the way through aeons during which Earth’s continents have joined, split asunder and rejoined into the cold, hard present. You may want to recreate that journey again and again whenever you need to remind yourself of your true place in the current universe and put your problems or other people’s issues into proper perspective.