If you only ever bought music on Norway’s Hubro label you’d still possess an improbably broad collection. At the same time that Lanzarote was released, for instance, out popped a bizarre album from drummer Oyvind Skarbo’s band, Skarbo Skulekorps (which races between surf music, the Caribbean, free improvisation and material akin to early Frank Zappa), and also the latest instalment of Lumen Drones’ jazz-goth nightmares of eternal winter. Lanzarote, another dark, brooding affair, emanates from the imaginations of Jo Berger Myhre (double bass, electronics, synths) and Olafur Bjorn Olafsson (piano, organ, drums, percussion).
Their sparse, multi-tracked dialogues initially hypnotise you with their textural ingenuity, and then draw you into a vision that is as bleak as a Cormack McCarthy novel, yet flecked with moments of such transcendental beauty (often from Myhre’s bowed bass) that you never feel abandoned in the doldrums. Yes, you are taken to a place of upsettling portentousness, but one that always insinuates a light of hope. Although guest brass players broaden the palette here and there, Myhre and Olafsson can exercise the hairs on the back of your neck all by themselves.