Although he's been a part of the experimental music scene in Norway for more than 10 years and has collaborated with the likes of Bill Wood (1/3 Octave Band), Makoto Kawabata and Crazy River, Fredrik Ness Sevendal is still little known in current underground music circles.
This debut CD (a co-release between Humbug and Apartment Records) appears after a series of 7 inches and appearances on various CD-R compilations. It will be the opportunity for all to discover a rich, colourful and very personal musical universe.
Sevendal's songs are mostly instrumental (with some very sparse wordless vocals here and there) and they are very concise in nature. They are mainly built around deceptively-simple melodic lines played either on the acoustic or electric guitar. Yet, the sound can be raw and delicate at the same time as Sevendal uses a wide array of very subtle effects which are able to give his songs a more mysterious quality.
Some of them may recall the "acid folk" melodies of a band like Espers ("No Foly Bow"), while others evolve around a more introspective kind of experimental blues ("Is She Asleep" and its looped guitar chords). Some melodies even have an inclination towards some sense of melodic pop ("Ghostfest" or "Dog Alone Home" whose quiet melancholy evokes the more minimal side of Piano Magic). Yet, the sound palette is always rich and surprising ? not unlike some of the more song-oriented Finnish stuff.
There are some lo-fi oddities as well, such as the central epic track "Gamle Gudbrand" which begins with some delicate layers of fiddle-like sounds (quite similar to the music of Pekko Kappi) before the strumming of a lonelier, noisier chord achieves to give the music a more unsettling turn.
The final 10-minute track entitled "The Chimney Sweeper" is my favourite of the lot as it perfectly sums up Sevendal's music in my opinion. In this sense, this track is a true masterpiece. The piece begins with a series of repetitive acoustic guitar lines that delineate a somewhat "darker" kind of mood. As it goes on, the use of various effects create a "noisier", yet unobtrusive environment for the song to grow. Behind the electronic manipulations, one already senses the presence of a broken, distant "folk" tune. Out of this quietly devastating storm finally comes an ethereal melody played on the acoustic guitar, with subtly-layered loops paving the way for a more serene, yet equally mysterious ending. The results are simply stunning and way more personal than my words can actually say. To my ears, this is the stand-out track on the whole album, no doubt.
If you like Fursaxa, David Thomas Broughton or some of the more "experimental" Finnish folk stuff (with a more melodically-concise approach though), you should definitely check out the music of Fredrik Ness Sevendal. 7/10 -- Francois Hubert (15 January, 2008)