The interplay here is close to perfect. The progressive drive at show makes ”Humcrush” one of the best albums released by Rune Grammofon. The addictive riffing in ”Pusher” is excellent proof of this quality. Out of a cunning toneplay comes one of the most catching dance tracks I´ve heard in quite so time. It can be difficult to catch exactly what this duo is doing within the framework of concrete notions. This is precisely what makes the music so interesting. During the 40 minutes the record lasts we are touching a number of styles and directions from strange avant garde to funk.
What a debut!! If any form of jazz can be labeled ”high energy” it must surely apply to this recording. Here are both grooves and a sense of communication that lack comparison. Both musicians are very good listeners, and the music is both monumental and minimal at almost the same time. The different tracks a very varied, making the album interesting from beginning to end. All the way we get excellent melodies. Communication is the key element here, together with a high technical level of playing, grooves and tunes to fall in love with. The only negative thing I can think of is that the album is only 39 minutes, but what you are served is simply the best I can imagine at the moment! This must surely be one of the highlights of the year. Out and buy!
Small, repetetive melodic phrases, some catchy in a pop way, are dressed in the strangest sounds, long lines are drawn in other and darker colours. The music is astonishingly tight for being improvised, and it displays a richness in detail that should keep it fresh and vital for any of the 50 first listenings. All in all a very joyous musical experience.
They have created a soundscape that is quite unique and very difficult to compare with anyone else. It´s edgy and groovy with elements of jazz, electronica and industrial music. Said in another way: This music created and played by Strønen and Storløkken could not have come from any other sources. Original music by original artists.
”Humcrush” is an album that could only have come from the Norwegian nujazz scene, with precedents including the more disturbing textures of Supersilent, the groove-centric work of artists including Bugge Wesseltoft, and the more atmospheric sounds of Eivind Aarset. But equally there is a lineage to Joe Zawinul and especially ”Sextant” and ”Crossings”-era Herbie Hancock. Still, Strønen and Storløkken manage to take these varied influences and create a melange that, with a determination and sense of resolve, demonstrates how music can work on many levels, sometimes demanding complete attention and other times able to blend seamlessly into the background. It is the sense of pulling ideas out of the ether and developing them into miniature pieces with an inner logic and sense of continuity that makes these nine improvisations so compelling.
Impressive and fun: two words that sum up this first album from Thomas Strønen and Ståle Storløkken. Here are two great musicians who are often taken for granted. Strønen's drumming is one of Food's most defining elements, but fans are keener to point out Iain Ballamy's playing. The same applies to Storløkken's keyboard work in Supersilent}, often overshadowed by Arve Henriksen's trumpet or Helge Sten's treatments. Humcrush sets the record straight on both counts with nine short, punchy, jabbing pieces (seven duets and two solo tracks). Inventive, bombastically joyful, and unlike anything either Food or Supersilent have recorded (although it veers closer to the latter).
All Music Guide (US)
While it does have an awful lot of electronic elements, Humcrush falls more in line with the jazz-based recordings in the Rune Grammofon catalog than with releases by artists like Skyphone, Maja Ratkje and Phonophani. The duo seems as influenced by the jazz-fusion of Weather Report as it does by the abstract electronica of Autechre. Their improvisations are at their best when the percussion and electronics interact almost in unison, as on the echoey call-and-response of "Sport'n Spice." In Supersilent, Stale Storlokken's contributions are frequently overshadowed by Helge Sten's deep and massive drones. On Humcrush, he finally gets a chance to step out front and show us what he can do.
Other Music (US)
Much in the manner of Black Dice's Creature Comforts, Humcrush presents an eclectic assortment of mischievous, seemingly chaotic sounds, flowering in a delectably melodic fashion. As an insightful rapprochement between improvisation and composition, Humcrush, though not without its problems, succeeds admirably. Even more, these fruitful, at times roguish songs are simply a pleasure to hear.
The fear that 40 minutes' worth of keyboard and drum duets might be unable to hold the attention or sound lacking in any way proves entirely unfounded. Humcrush is chockful of astonishingly vigorous interplay at the same time as it assimilates the influence of oriental theatre music, techno, krautrock and free jazz in a whirlwind processional that's much more than the sum of its parts.
Being fans of both Food and Supersilent (especially!) we were interested to hear this...also most Rune Grammofon stuff is pretty good. And this is! Improvised live in the recording studio but well and truly sounding like weird, tuneful 'songs', this album reminds us a bit of the Shaking Ray Levis, or maybe even a free improv version of Sagor and Swing, if you know either of them. The ramshackle rhythmic clatter of drums, the glitchy hiss and buzz of electronics, and the quirky synth tones combine quite temptingly to our ears. Not to many other 'improv' records boast cuts like "Marked East" that we want to hit repeat on right after they're over. From bright and bouncy (like that track) to moody and mysterious, Humcrush is an enjoyable ride.
A set of pieces improvised and recorded in studio, the release is a smoking piece of futuristic electro-jazz, mixing hyper electronics, bleats of analogue keyboards, and skittering live drums to great effect. Overall, there's a nice mixture of both quiet (although sometimes trying) and more upbeat material on Humcrush. "Pusher" is an absolutely hammering track that blends aggressive electronics with filtered and live drums and squealing keyboards into a rather attention-hogging mix. If you've listened to Supersilent before, you'll definitely recognize the sonics of Ståle Storløkken in this mix, but he seems to be having a bit more fun here, as if their aren't as many restraints. Although not all of the tracks feel full-formed, there's still a vibrance and energy on Humcrush that's hard to deny. In forty minutes, the young duo push out some seriously unique (and sometimes downright fun) music.
Nine lean studio improvisations that have the purposeful compactness of premeditated compositions. Early 1970s jazz fusion, offshoots of ”Bitches Brew” and Miles Davis´s assignment of more abstract investigations to his keyboard crew, has left an audible imprint on Storløkken´s taste in attainable sonorities. There are traces too of Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff´s earnest Moog work as Tonto and elsewhere at that time, tastefully pared into digestible bites. There´s an archive mined on ”Humcrush” but the duo´s application is fresh and functional and entirely appealing.
The Wire (UK)