Twenty Centuries Of Stony Sleep
On Twenty Centuries of Stony Sleep, Rune Grammofon celebrates its 100th release with thirteen original pieces by roster artists of recent and long-standing vintage. The seventy-five-minute collection captures in no uncertain terms the stylistic breadth of the label while simultaneously speaking to the integrity and consistency of vision Rune Kristoffersen has brought to the label since its inception.
Though there are a couple of louder tracks, much of the material hews to the quieter side of things. The album opens with two grungy minutes by Alog (“My Card Is 7”) in a style that's not the first one that comes to mind when one thinks of Rune Grammofon and that, in fact, proves to be uncharacteristic of the compilation. The Low Frequency In Stereo then appears with “Aux Club,” nine minutes of pulsating post-rock with strong, psychedelic-tinged lead guitar playing leading the high-energy charge. The conspicuous absence of Susanna Karolina Wallumrød, either solo or with her Magical orchestra, is compensated for in part by the inclusion of delicate vocal ballads by Hilde Marie Kjersem (“That Day in the Shower”) and In The Country (“Slow Down”), and Jenny Hval's melodically haunting folk setting “Golden Locks” bodes well for whatever future Rune Grammofon has in store for her. By contrast, the label's propensity for challenging experimentalism is accounted for by Stian Westerhus, who contributes a relentlessly hyperactive convulsion of percussive rattle and hum called “Discipline of Undiscipline,” and Maja Ratkje, whose “Breathe” unspools a cryptic melange of eerie vocal groans, growls, and croaks. In addition, Ultralyd's spooky “Salinity and Brine” generates spectral sound sculpting from shuddering guitar, percussion, and electronics; “Barbara” by Bushman's Revenge offers a Frisell-esque slice of soulful balladry featuring electric guitar accompanied by organ and rhythm section; and the Espen Eriksen Trio's “Ambitions” provides an elegant sampling of ECM-styled trio piano jazz.
Two of the album's strongest pieces appear near the end. Prototypical it might be, but Deathprod's “Mysterium Magnum” is a nevertheless impressive example of his windswept doom artistry. The collection's most powerful moment, however, arrives last when Supersilent's dirge “C-7.1” gives trumpeter Arve Henriksen ample room to emote, an opportunity he takes up, as one would expect he might, in deeply affecting manner.