Jo David Meyer Lysne & Mats Eilertsen: Meander
Øra Fonogram

Evoking notions of reflective exploration, peaceful splendour, and the easing of formally delineated structures, Meander would seem to be an especially apt title choice for this debut album by Oslo-based guitarist Jo David Meyer Lysne in collaboration with double bassist Mats Eilertsen, one of Norway's most highly regarded players. The beauty of the Nordic landscapes is conveyed by acoustic settings that pleasingly accentuate the interplay between the two. Issued on the Trondheim-based label Øra Fonogram, the release is a mini-album at thirty minutes, though no less satisfying for being so.

On this non-electric date, Meyer Lysne is credited with acoustic guitars, twelve-string acoustic guitar, and effects, and composed five of the eleven settings and co-wrote the others. One of his goals is to find new timbres for the guitar and to that end uses effects to maximize its potential as a vehicle for atmospheric soundscaping. Textures are more abundant than riffs on this recording, even if a clearly defined melody arises on occasion to give a particular piece definition.

One of the more pleasing things about the release is that the two interact as equals as opposed to one adopting a secondary role in support of the other. Melodic settings alternate with explorations of a comparatively more experimental nature, and while stylistically folk predominates classical tonalities emerge in a number of instances (e.g., “Duolian”). At the outset, Eilertsen's upper register harmonics align with the guitarist's atmospheric effects to lend “Intro” an ethereal character; “Åpning” later conjures mood in a slightly spookier manner by weaving ghostly sounds in amongst its mystical strums and softly rumbling clangour.

In keeping with its title, “Svømmer Over” exudes a touching nostalgic quality, whereas Meyer Lysne's acoustic picking imbues “Sluten” with a pastoral-folk quality, Eilertsen initially augmenting his partner's playing with bowing and then doubling him on unison statements. Even more peaceful is the lilting title track, which the two perform with a languor that's as inviting as a cabin's fireplace on a chilly winter evening. Here and elsewhere, the absence of a drummer allows the duo's expressions to, yes, meander but in the most pleasing manner.

No better choice of partner than Eilertsen could have been made by the guitarist for his debut album. With more than 100 recordings under his belt, the bassist plays with authority and taste, and is the kind of musician whose note choices are unerring and sense of time is impeccable. Every recording, it seems, on which he appears is bettered by his involvement, and this date with Meyer Lysne, which, despite its brevity, covers ample ground, is no exception.

December 2017