Neuzeit J.Peter Schwalm & Arve Henriksen
Info for Neuzeit
How we define the age we live in depends entirely on the frame we choose to view it through. On one timescale we’re just getting settled into the 21st century; zoom out and we’re deeply entrenched in the Anthropocene. We might be waking to the dawn of an enlightened, interconnected new era or teetering on the brink of a sixth mass extinction.
Neuzeit, which German electro-acoustic composer J. Peter Schwalm views through his new duo outing with the Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen, is generally taken to refer to the modern era that began in the 16th century and witnessed the rise of Western Civilization. Schwalm chooses to take the term on its face, however; the fusion of “new” and “time” he defines as a period marked by sudden and drastic change. To borrow another word from the German, it ably yet dauntingly captures the zeitgeist of our tumultuous moment, one in which political upheaval, global pandemic and catastrophic climate change seem poised to usher in an uncertain new existence.
“Neuzeit reflects the time of change after a crash,” says Schwalm. “The cards are remixed again; changes in any direction are possible. There are opportunities to get things right again – e.g. to rearrange them. Of course, there is always a dark side in everything.”
Neuzeit is not only a sonic commentary on this unstable age but a product of it. The collaboration was created almost entirely in the altered reality brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schwalm began crafting the compositions in February, as cities around the world began instigating lockdowns to stem the tide of the virus. Realizing that he and Henriksen would be unable to meet in an actual studio, a collaboration by correspondence began, with conversations over the phone and ideas and music sent via email. Once the parts were recorded, Schwalm sequestered himself in the studio for months, assembling, mixing and editing to conjure the finished product.
“My idea was to offer Arve ideas that might inspire him to step into a territory where neither of us have ventured before. After some conversations on the phone we narrowed it down to a basic idea. Our starting point was rather formal and orchestral. It was quite a formal but at the same time a very creative working process in the beginning as we couldn’t meet in a studio due to the COVID-19 situation. But I soon realized that Arve is a really fast and creative performer and co-composer.”
Both men can boast a rich history of deep and inventive collaboration throughout their respective careers. In 1998 Schwalm’s electro-jazz ensemble Projekt Slop Shop caught the ear of legendary musician/producer Brian Eno, instigating a six-year partnership that included recording the album Drawn From Life, composing the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn’s film Fear X, and the creation of a multi-channel sound installation in the crater of the Volcano del Cuervo on the Spanish island of Lanzarote. Schwalm released Musikain, the first album under his own name, in 2006; since then he’s released three other albums, the last two for RareNoise: The Beauty of Disaster in 2016 and How We Fall in 2018.
Over the last three decades, Arve Henriksen has established himself as one of the most distinctive and in-demand trumpeters and improvisers on the diverse Scandinavian scene. In addition to releasing ten albums of his own through Rune Grammofon and ECM, Henriksen has also been an integral member of the renowned avant-jazz band Supersilent since its formation in 1997. The trumpeter has worked with a staggering list of creative music luminaries, including Jon Balke, Marilyn Mazur, Nils Petter Molvær, Arild Andersen, Dhafer Youssef, David Sylvian, Jon Hassell, Laurie Anderson, John Paul Jones, Gavin Bryars, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bill Frisell, Terje Rypdal, Maria Schneider and Christian Fennesz, among many others.
The pair met in 2006 at the second Punktfestival in Kristiansand, Norway, an annual gathering of experimental musicians dedicated to the idea of live remixing. Since that year Schwalm and Henriksen have both made regular appearances at the festival, and have often discussed the idea of a joint project. “I always felt that the right moment and the right basic idea to start with would come when the time was right,” Schwalm explains.
Despite their mutually impressive credentials, Schwalm says that the two were strangers to each other’s work when their paths crossed initially. “When I saw Arve performing for the first time at the Punktfestival, I didn’t know him and Iwas absolutely amazed by his natural musical drive,” the composer says. “He is one of the few musicians where I think, ‘He is music.’ The way that the instruments he plays and his voice melt into such a unique sound is just stunning.”
Henriksen’s singular voice, combined with Schwalm’s visionary approach to crafting vast and evocative sonic landscapes, immediately seize the listener and transport them into an exploratory terrain on Neutzeit. The tone is vividly set by the opening piece, “Blütezeit,” which refers to something emerging and growing. There’s a bristling hybridity to the sounds created by the two men; the elusive atmospherics that usher in the piece seem to morph fluidly from snare drum echoes to crashing tides. Henriksen’s horn tone mutates into a vocal keen and back again seamlessly. Throbbing electronics and tolling piano suggest a no man’s land between the organic and the artificial.
The title of “Suchzeit” alludes to a search for answers and reasons, a resonant quest amidst such disquiet. Henriksen’s inquisitive horn probes the dark recesses of Schwalm’s mysterious environments, with an element of hope – if not quite certainty – arising over the course of the track. The title track, with its suggestion of tentative, unsteady footsteps, sums up the album’s theme of radical change driven by world events. The same is reflected in the album’s cover art, a vast expanse of sea and sky, momentarily poised between light and darkness – which, depending on the viewer’s mood, could be perceived as either threatening or promising.
With Schwalm’s elegiac piano tones, Henriksen’s breathy, mournful horn and the patter of rain upon an imaginary window, “Raumzeit” suggests a place of reflection and peace, whether physical or mental. Schwalm describes “Schonzeit” as the pause between the onset and the finale of a Big Bang; that could be the infinitesimal break of a held breath or it could be time itself, and the pair’s tautly cinematic dialogue here suggests the intimacy and expanse of that ambiguity.
Stark and pointillist, “Unzeit” stands for the wrong time, thrilling in the dissonant strangeness of its disjointed design. “Wellenzeit,” with its suggestion of waves, refers to the cyclical nature of time, a returning and repeating contained in the rhythms of life and the echoes of history. Gentle, questing and heartbreakingly hopeful, “Zeitnah” means, simply, “soon.”
Interpret that single word however you will, but with Neuzeit J. Peter Schwalm and Arve Henriksen not only encapsulate the conflicting feelings of our modern era but suggest a way forward. How today is seen will only be clear through the lens of history; but its shaping, this transportive and powerful album, seems to urge, is entirely our doing.
J. Peter Schwalm, piano, drums, electronics and programming
Arve Henriksen, trumpets, percussion and voices
Starting in 1998, German electro-acoustic composer J. Peter Schwalm worked continuously with Brian Eno for six years; together they released the album Drawn From Life, wrote the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn‘s feature film Fear X, gave celebrated concerts in Europe and Japan.
Since 2006 Schwalm has been a regular guest at the Punktfestival in Kristiansand, Norway, where he distinguished himself as one of the few experienced live remixers, among others for members of the widely acclaimed Ensemble Modern.
In spring 2016 Schwarm’s first RareNoise album, The Beauty Of Disaster was released. Artistically, it revolved around a duality that shapes the visual arts and music as well as life itself: a certain melancholy that is always inherent in hope.
Shortly after that, he collaborated with electro-jazz trio Chat Noir on Nine Thoughts For One Word, facilitating their transition to fully fledged electronic unit, as can be now witnessed on Hyperuranion.
In the autumn of 2016, an existential experience was added, on that left deep traces. Diagnosed with brain cancer, the artist elected to have the growth removed. The operation turned out to be unsuccessful. Schwalm nevertheless set to work on a new release, even if partly weakened by the inevitably following chemotherapy.
Over the course of the following year, pieces were created that reflect feelings such as restlessness, fear, despair and anger, but artistically process these emotions into abstract sounds, reflecting the artist’s willingness to style and design that characterised Schwalm’s earlier productions.
More consistent than ever, on How We Fall, he created sound sculptures that transcend common categories. Their structures can take on rough or gently curved forms, unfold associative or contemplative effects, and may even make the listener shiver. Schwalm’s feel for nuances, tension arcs and individual sounds is based on talent and many years of experience, as well as the processing of personal trauma.
Now, on Neuzeit, his collaboration with norwegian trumpeter and sound sculptor Arve Henriksen, he takes his conceptualisations further: The term Neuzeit, is generally taken to refer to the modern era that began in the 16th century and witnessed the rise of Western Civilization. Schwalm chooses to take the term on its face, however; the fusion of “new” and “time” he defines as a period marked by sudden and drastic change. To borrow another word from the German, it ably yet dauntingly captures the Zeitgeist of our tumultuous moment, one in which political upheaval, global pandemic and catastrophic climate change seem poised to usher in an uncertain new existence.
Born in 1968, Arve Henriksen studied at the Trondheim Conservatory from 1987-1991, and has worked as a freelance musician since 1989.
He has worked with many musicians, including Jon Balke Magnetic North Orchestra/Batagraf, Edward Vesala, Jon Christensen, Marilyn Mazur, Nils Petter Molvær, Misha Alperin, Arkady Shilkloper, Arild Andersen, Stian Carstensen, Dhafer Youssef, Sidsel Endresen, Pekka Kuusisto, Christian Wallumrød Ensemble, Nils Økland, Karl Seglem, Per Oddvar Johansen, Iain Ballamy, Thomas Strønen, Gjermund Larsen, Svante Henryson, Mats Eilertsen, David Sylvian, Jon Hassell, Hope Sanduval, Laurie Anderson, John Paul Jones, Erik Honoré, Toshimaru Nakamura, Trygve Seim Ensemble, Jan Gunnar Hoff, Tord Gustavsen, Giovanni Di Domenico, Tatsuhisa Yamamoto, Gavin Bryars, John Potter, Johanna McGregor, Imogen Heap, Guy Sigsworth, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bill Frisell, Terje Rypdal, Maria Schneider, Kate Havnevik, Live Marie Roggen, Silje Nergaard, Odd Nordstoga, Kari Bremnes, Sondre Bratland, Jannis Anastasakis, Lars Danielsson, The Source, Vox Clamantis and many more.
He has played in many different contexts, bands and projects, ranging from working with koto player Satsuki Odamura to the rock band Motorpsycho via numerous free improvising groups with Ernst Reisiger, Sten Sandell, Peter Friis-Nilsen, Lotte Anker, Hasse Poulsen, Terje Isungset, Benoit Delbecq, Steve Arguelles, Lars Juul and Marc Ducret.
He has collaborated with the composers Peter Tornquist, Helge Sunde, Terje Bjørklund and Tõnu Kõrvits in cooperation with orchestras and chamber settings like Cikada String Quartet, Nidaros String Quartet, Zapp 4, The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Kristiansand and Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Britten Sinfonia, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, The Norwegian Wind Ensemble and Trondheim Soloists.
He has worked together with video and visual artists like Anastasia Isachsen, Tord Knudsen and Lillevan.
Today he is connected to and in collaboration with:
Supersilent (Helge Sten and Ståle Storløkken)
Trio Mediaeval´s Rimur (Linn Andrea Fuglseth , Berit Opheim and Anna Maria Friman)
Sinikka Langeland´s Starflowers and Magical Forest (Anders Jormin, Trygve Seim and Markku Onaskari)
Saumur (Hilmar Jensson and Skuli Sverrisson)
Warped Dreamer (Teun Verbrüggen, Jozef Dumoulin and Stian Westerhus)
Atmosphéres (Jan Bang, Eivind Aarseth and Tigran Hamasyan)
"Sommeren der ute" (Ellen Bødtker, Jan Erik Vold and Eirik Raude)
Fennesz-Henriksen (Christian Fennesz)
And various percussive settings including Audun Kleive, Helge Norbakken and Ingar Zach.
Henriksen has composed and commissioned music for festivals, films and documentary programs. He has a long discography counting over 140 records in total. Received together with Supersilent The Alarm Award 2004. He has been the artist in residence at Moers Jazzfestival 2006, OIOI-festival in Bergen 2008 and at Molde Jazz Festival 2009. From 2004-2006 he was a part of the European Jazz Launch project. He has received Norsk Jazzforums Buddy Award 2005. Radka Toneffs Memorial Award 2007, Paul Acket Award at North Sea Jazz Festival 2011 and DNB and Kongsberg Jazzfestival´s Musician Award 2011. He has been nominated to Nordisk Råds musikkpris 2009 and also nominated to European Jazz musician of the year 2009. In 2016 he became Doctor Honoris Causa at The University of Gothenburg. Nominated with Supersilent for Nordisk Råds Musikkpris to be announced in October 2017. Commissioned music for The Humber Bridge project Hull City of Culture 2017.
This album contains no booklet.