Text by CLOT Magazine
Our new mixtape comes from the Norwegian transcendent artist Kjetil Jerve and producer Stian Balducci, with a recording specially crafted for CLOT Magazine that gets inspiration from their more recent album.
Tokyo Tapes: Piano Recycle, released on Dugnad Records in April 2021, is an epic archival collection fusing ambient, drone and experimentalist textures. Performed with a live emotion in mind, this aspect of the collection adds to the innovative spontaneity and the duo’s dynamic musicianship.
Jerve is an artist known for his genre-defying curiosity and adventures transcending dogma and style and has been running the Oslo-based label Dugnad Rec since 2016. He has been an important figure in the next wave of Norwegian jazz musicians, and likewise, Balducci, although coming from strictly electronic musicianship, has moved towards extended jazz and improvised genres.
The clear jazz influences are felt moving throughout the 18-track album, in which classicism and electricity combine, crafted through fuzzy textures, cinematic soundscapes and hauntingly beautiful melody paintings.
The album centres around Kjetil’s unique piano musings, it is then moulded by Balducci through creative warping to design and sketch new instruments through the initial medium of the piano.
The result is a record that feels both archaic and contemporary, clearly drawing inspiration from and acknowledging Alva Noto/Sakamoto and Bugge/Schwarz as predecessors while residing on its own plane of artistry.
The artists suggest a promise to provide a euphoric connection: the record asks to be listened to in a place of nature, free of distractions, when its power can be felt most vividly.
For this mixtape, they share, they wanted to display a balance between the eclectic and narrow, selecting from a broad spectrum of inspirations and melding it together with a long take of piano improvisation recorded exclusively for CLOT:
It sounds like what could be a live DJ set from Stian’s studio with Kjetil’s piano built-in. There are also some gold nuggets from new and upcoming releases happening here in Norway, and it’s always really nice to present our peers’ work in a worldwide context.
The artists also request their audiences to engage with the listening: Please let us know how you experienced it in the comments, and be sure to check out our socials to participate in our common future.
Your new album Tokyo Tapes: Piano Recycle, is an archival collection fusing ambient, drone and experimentalist textures. What was the compilation of tracks process like?
Kjetil released his first solo piano album, “Tokyo Improvisations” back in 2018 and asked Stian if he wanted to try remixing it. He then delved into the recorded sounds of the Yamaha grand piano and extracted extensive samples.
He enhanced and transmuted these slices into electronically usable forms with his array of digital and analogue processors. In short, manifests an entirely new instrument out of the original studio tapes from Kichijoji. From this, he created a bunch of demonstrations showcasing its various possibilities and sent them back to Kjetil. With all thumbs up, he started composing and producing what became TOKYO TAPES: PIANO RECYCLE.
What do you want to explore musically in this project? Did you follow your usual process, or were experimenting with others?
In so many ways, this project has been simply about joining forces. Stian and Kjetil’s ways meet at the intersections of improvisation as a method, where the dogmas of techno and jazz are boiled down to intuitive sound interpretations.
From a Norwegian perspective, we could call it “extended jazz”. As such, the process of working together has been just as impromptu as the music itself. Still, the final product sounds polished, like a completely planned work because of Stian’s strong aesthetic welding – while Kjetil has been functioning more like a behind-the-scenes producer after supplying the initial fundament.
What does each of you bring to the project? musically (or technically) and conceptually speaking?
First and foremost, we bring open minds and clean slates. The only “rule” was to utilize the piano exclusively sounds as source material. This idea was mutually agreed upon immediately as the project was unrolled.
To Kjetil’s surprise, though, Stian churned out more than double the amount of music than originally intended. Both because he wanted us to have a good selection to build from and getting excited and inspired playing his new-built contraption.
Having been active as DIY musicians and label managers for several years, it was also a natural progression to advance our skills and knowledge of how to actually bring our artistry to the rest of the world. Hence we’re really happy to share this with you guys at CLOT.
The album is set to be listened to in a place of nature, free of distractions; What is your relationship with technology nowadays? How do you cope with screen/digital technology overload?
Nature isn’t just the woods, seas, and mountains. Nature is what we’re all integral parts of. And realizing this is a daily task requiring humble reflection and honest practice. The post-modern hypocrisy of humans being biological robots in a meaningless universe is plastered throughout our society like blockbuster movie posters.
This means that it is up to each one of us to make sense of the world, whether it is through a laptop keyboard or waves on the beach. We both became fathers to our firstborns in 2019, which certainly has pointed our direction towards a conscious use of our time and effort.