Behold, the world's only improv trio featuring harmonium, drums and Hardanger fiddle. A decade since they came together, Nils Økland, Sigbjørn Apeland and Øyvind Skarbø — aka 1982 — have six recordings on their resume, in addition to a host of solo projects. These are accomplished artists; Apeland, for example, is the only Norwegian with a doctorate in ethnomusicology.
Six of Chromola's seven pieces feature Apeland on pipe organ rather than harmonium. (He pulls that out for the album's finale.) Despite having been recorded at Bergen's Sandviken church, there isn't a hint of religiosity here. Save for the occasional Iron Butterfly-like noodling, much of the organ playing drones fairly low in the mix. Credit engineer Davide Bertolini, a long-time collaborator with the trio, for getting that right. The pipe organ adds texture without ever overpowering.
The production also focuses a good deal of the listener's attention on violin and percussion. Økland's performance is arguably the album's centrepiece; inspired and often passionate, violinists will marvel at his playing.
None of this would work though if it weren't for Skarbø, though. Successful improvisation demands solid, creative percussion, and Skarbø's work on this album is extraordinary. After a few listens, you'll find it's his contribution that makes Chromola work. (Hubro)