November 1988 A4 32 pages
UK ELECTRONICA 88
photocopy reprint (last 4 copies)
Example article extract
OLE HØJER HANSEN
It's a rare treat these days to discover a musician that, whilst being exceptionally talented, has remained virtually unknown - even in his homeland, Denmark. Not that it was by any stroke of wisdom that I discovered him, but rather the chance encounter with his first LP in a second-hand rack. Some simple detective work, with the aid of an atlas and a Danish friend (thanks Ketil) led to contact with Ole earlier this year.
Much to my delight Ole, though not having released any more records, was still busy composing and recording. Unlike what some people may think, such musicians have not "been hiding", but rather -struggling to gain recognition, thus he was exceptionally pleased to get my letter. To quote: 'I'm having a very exciting and a very strange period at the moment. Exciting because ... I'm in a period which offers me a lot of experience with music: in the past 5-6 years I've composed ballet and theatre pieces, and in the last 2 years I have been asked more than usual. But very strange ... even though I have good jobs, composing music to several things in Denmark, I've not much chance of releasing a record here'. Thus is the paradox of the inventive musician, be he a synthesist Ole, experimentalist like Peter Frohmader, or rock musician like Günter Schickert, the media and record companies in general aren't the slightest bit interested.
Ole went on to exclaim his dilemma: 'The Danish companies don't believe in this kind of music. The company TRANSMISSION was released by have never done anything to sell it - and how could they when they don't believe in it?'
Hopefully here at Audion we can put things to right, first with this article and stocking his debut album TRANSMISSION, and secondly by releasing his second album NUDITY on cassette (on our Auricle label), but more about that later.
So, what is Ole's music like? Well, I previously mentioned that he's a synthesist, though he's not just that - like Klaus Schulze was never just a synthesist - he uses many different keyboards, percussion, tapes, etc. to create rich melodic and spacious musical tapestries, expertly composed, articulate and refreshingly different.
TRANSMISSION (Sam Records 09) LP
Through its deep emotion and subtle nuances TRANSMISSION is indeed a most magical and refreshingly different album, capturing a perfect balance between understated spatial music and dynamic active interplay between synths, piano and multi-percussives. Basically two side-long suites (4 parts on side A, 3 parts on side B), the structure should satisfy both those who like long tracks, and those that like structured composition.
Side A takes us on the most varied trip, opening with sound effects, muted strings and other subtle synth tones, drums enter juxtaposing the musical backing, and consequentially the piano follows by juxtaposing the drums. Shortly, as the music dies away, we are left with the sound of a person breathing deeply. Occasional note interjections bring about changes, with wavering strings, rich synth melodies and some nice mock flute. In the following part there's some great piano and percussion interplay, becoming almost systemic as the piano and marimba play against each other. Following a most spooky phase (akin to the quieter parts of Ragnar Grippe's TEN TEMPERAMENTS), drums rise dynamically from the mire along with complex sequential synth and end the side most vibrantly.
Side B takes us on a more spacious journey, opening almost in silence a muted drone lays a base for a shifting melodic tapestry of strange sounds, Mellotron type flute voices and subtle string synth intonations, it's most calming yet uneasy, a sense of mystery pervades creating a most stimulating listening experience. Gradually we are brought back to the real world, with the sounds of children playing ball, the music builds sympathetically to the sounds of the ball bouncing and the children's laughter. As it grows, various percussives are added to the synths, becoming most dynamic with the use of explosive timpani crashes and rolls. Ultimately the mood subsides returning to the spacious subtleties that opened the side, finishing the album perfectly, nicely relaxed and calm.
Few albums I've heard have managed to capture such a deeply emotive, both dynamic and spacious, atmosphere as Ole has here. It's definitely a most rewarding experience.
Since TRANSMISSION Ole's music, or rather his approach to composition and performance, has changed somewhat. Now working more exclusively with synths and samplers, he is producing an even more evocative music. His recent recordings are all lengthy works and bear much correlation to the classic 70's European synth genre (something that has largely disappeared in recent years), as such -anyone who likes classic period Klaus Schulze (up to "X"), Tangerine Dream's "cosmic" phase, and the spacious music from Californian's Michael Stearns, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, etc., will surely be delighted by Ole's new offering...
NUDITY (Auricle 88.0O2-4/AMC 032) MC
Wayside said that Bernd Kistenmacher's HEAD-VISIONS was the best album Klaus Schulze never made. Well, that was until this! Not that NUDITY actually sounds like Klaus Schulze, though in part (especially on Song Blue and Sundays) it's more of a step on from Klaus' "X" - the type of thing he should have done next. But as we all know, Herr Schulze's career has suffered since, rarely capturing those heights again. So, it may seem strange that a Danish composer should (be it unknowingly?) latch onto this highly inventive edge of the synth music genre and develop it further. I suppose the reason no one had done it before is that few 80's synthesists are actually trained musicians or professionals, thus it's hard for a "self-taught" musician to arrange such complex music. Hence we are plagued with hundreds of synthesists playing simple melodic works, but very few that are furthering the course of synth music as a most potent and emotional art-form.
But, back to the subject at hand. Throughout its four lengthy compositions, NUDITY is a 65 minute marvel - expressive, flowing, dynamic - full of everything a really great synth album should be.
Song Blue opens side A with a strange array of undulating and contorted sounds. Stochastic effects and melodic interjections gradually gel and form a musical framework, in turn this is embellished by layer upon layer of reverberated sequencer, building up to most dynamic heights. In feel, I'm continually reminded of the non-orchestral parts of "X", though the sounds Ole uses are quite different. Sundays is closer to the orchestral parts of "X", at least in sound and atmosphere: the melodic structure is most enchanting, overwhelmingly deep, yet not sweet - Ole knows how to pick every nuance out of each note he plays and express a deep feeling that very few people seem to be able to get from synths. This one actually makes my spine shiver!
Onto side B, we have Nudity (Part 1 and 2), 24 minutes of uniquely Ole Højer Hansen music, it's the closest here to TRANSMISSION, but with a bigger sound. Back are the familiar percussion (vibes) and piano interplay and dynamic drums, yet here everything is synthesized or sampled, but one wouldn't really know that the drums weren't real, Ole has perfected the use of drum-computer astoundingly well. These "drums" announce the start of Part 2, with its growing base of sequences and devious solos, the tension builds, then with two well-placed attacks on the piano, the whole affair runs riot - sequencers let rip at incredible breakneck speed, over which Ole lays a furious and unbelievable solo, phew! Exit closes the side with 7 minutes of more sedate (when compared with the end of the previous track) yet still quite dynamic music, and summarises much of what has gone before, lots of swirling, shifting sound, a vocal chorale and expressive drums, concluding the album perfectly.
It's always intriguing to know why a musician has taken his particular route, what stimulated him, what his ideas and plans are. Thus the following interview resulted...
Article & interview by Alan Freeman.
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