Daydream Twin - Stein Urheim & Mari Kvien Brunvoll
Stein Urheim & Mari Kvien Brunvoll's second Jazzland Recordings release, "Daydream Twin" carries on from "Daydream Community" with ease, a little bit of swagger, and more than enough artistic flashes of inspiration to make even the most dreary winter day seem pretty darn good.
Album opener, "Motor" is a superb introduction, an ambient wash, dropping hints of what is to come, but leaving the listener with enough curiosity to wonder what is to come. "Sound of his motor" gives an immediate answer: exotic plucked strings from Stein Urheim with a languid overtone while carrying enough energy to fuel a dancehall for a week of endless nights. Mari Kvien Brunvoll overlays a growing chorus of looped vocals, expanding and contracting with ease. "Wait a While" brings in elements of whimsical acoustic Americana, twanging acoutic strings, and a melody that is memorable, sing-alongable, childlike and timeless. "Treeplanting" changes the tone with a return to the ambient soundscapes of "Motor", but from an entirely different perspective; where "Motor" felt like a view from a window, "Treeplanting" feels like a view from the treetops. And just when you think you know exactly where you are, Stein changes the tone entirely, making a kind of chaingang chant atop somehow incongruous with Mari's chordal layercake of processed kazoo that underpin it. "It's good for your body, it's good for your soul" they sing, yet there's just a hint that it may be the opposite ... "The Jam" follows on with more slightly off-kilter chordal happenings before breaking down into a kind of conversation without words between Mari's voice and Stein's guitar. Eventually, the track resolves into a kind of industrial blues shuffle, something never heard within the vicinity of the Mississippi Delta, but perhaps familiar on some interstellar mining colony. "Why Does It End?" brings us to a dimly lit space where late nights never seem to be late enough or long enough, familiar feelings to anyone who has had a comedown after some of the best times in their life, whether in love or in work or in play. "Bariton" brings in more of Stein's ultra-fluid string styling, a unique thing among the world of guitarists: his playing is as much an effect as any electronic device fetishized by guitarists of a more conventional ilk. The track makes a steady journey through a world that seems both familiar and other, a daydream by night. "Mr. RD" brings blues through filters exotic, uncanny, yet retains that blues stomp feeling familiar to any afficionado. "Crow Jane" brings ragtime into the gumbo, but throws curves unlike any expectation of that genre ... This is ragtime melting on a South American blues bonfire. "If The River" begins with a droning blues herald of epic intent, all within three and a half minutes. "Stortrollet" is the mature cousin to the brasher youngster that was "Lilletrollet" on "Daydream Community". Altogether more sedate, more aware of itself, keeping a cool detachment that makes the listener pay closer attention. Musically, "Free" offers a kind of cowboy song for the martian prairies, while lyrically the connection is purely with a blues-based philosophy "Do we forget what it means to be free?" Clearly Stein and Mari haven't forgotten; quite the contrary - it seems that with every moment they become more acutely aware of what it means as though for the first time. They are in a state of endless revelation.
Throughout the album (much like their "Daydream Community" release did), you get the feeling that Stein Urheim and Mari Kvien Brunvoll are inventing their own folk tradition for a world saturated with electronic gizmos and relationships expressed through epigrams and captioned images on social networks. In world where most of us spend a lot of time saying very little, in a mere 40 minutes, Stein and Mari say more than the average day's wittering and twittering from across the world.