Halvcirkel - Vida
Halvcirkel - Vida
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Halvcirkel - Vida

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Release Date: 12/06/2024
Format: LP Colour
Label 130701
Catalogue Number: LP13-55

Halvcirkel’s new album, Vida, takes its title from a small Swedish village, the location of Bettina’s summerhouse. Signed to FatCat Records, it’s the first to focus on the trio’s own compositions. Each piece, however, pays tribute / homage to their influences, collaborators, and their journey so far.

The recordings find the three friends experimenting with techniques, such as col lengo and pizzicato, and painting pictures of Nordic landscapes, the nature of Iceland, Sweden, and their native Denmark. In the process these creations call on and reference giants of modern classical and post-classical music: Brian Eno, Craig Leon, Carl Nielsen, Arvo Part, and Caroline Shaw. In addition their aural aesthetic - where each instrument is equal - pays utmost respect to their mentor, the pioneering minimalist, Terry Riley. The results are highly personal and unique.

København, while written during the COVID-19 lockdown, aims to harness a hope, stirred by the smell of spring. Its see-sawing, sort of sea shanty viola and violin movement, whistling and wheezing from distorted and raw to finally take flight and soar. Summoning the sight of migrating birds. The joyful patterns of repetition recall Terry Riley, who Halvcirkel cite as their greatest musical influence. The artist who moulded their “non-hierarchical”sound.

Halvcirkel have covered Riley on several occasions, and in 2020 were invited to visit the Californian at his mountain ranch. It was this trip, in part, that inspired the track,Ridge. Tipping its cap to a cafe they frequented. A ceremony of drones, marching to a slow ritual rhythm, a procession possessing ripples of hurdy gurdy-like reed resonance and buzz, this work also salutes another Halvcirkel collaborator, Craig Leon, and Nommos, his interplanetary dance of the Dogon people.

Nidingen is named after a lighthouse on the west coast of Sweden, where Nicole spent her childhood summers. Consisting of short, sharp strokes, countered by long bowed notes, the contrast is intended to convey a feeling of personal stability while surrounded by chaos. The effect is a bit like wild waterfowl squabbling, bickering beneath a Shakespearian monologue. Good Medicine is another tribute to Riley. Playing only pizzicato, Halvcirkel describe the experiment as a humorous “self-portrait”. The perky melodies picked and plucked in a manner that brings to mind Simon and Arthur Jeffes’ Penguin Cafe chamber orchestra mix of classical and folk. Like an opera, each individualvoice passionately expresses something different, while intertwining to create a greater whole. Sænk kun dit hoved, du blomst, a reading of Danish violinist / composer / conductor Carl Nielsen’s poetic, metaphorical mediation on sleep and death, as well, features tightly spun short, stuttered, folk-flavoured phrases. Pushing, pulling, back and forth between major and minor, before evolving into a collective swoon. The edges of each instrument only revealing themselves again as the song starts to fade. Allting faller signifies the cycles of change we are subject to, and unable to alter. Its delicately descending lines, graceful, effortlessly elegant, call back to Brian Eno’s beautiful, melancholic Sparrowfall. Heidur Himinn is an homage to the Icelandic winter, and improvised col lengo, with just the wooden side of the bow. The thin, fragile, icy, Arvo Part-esque Vetrarsky too pictures those sensational seasonal Nordic pink skies. Bold and brave, We Like Our Friends, all repetitive interlocking riffing, seems to translate the energy of techno and house. Like Alexander Balanescu’s arrangements of Kraftwerk, repaying the minimalist debt. Småland is a province in southern Sweden, dominated by dense forest, and while a paean to a simple, off-the-grid life, the tune is actually a dramatic tango - worthy of Astor Piazzolla’s Zero Hour. The intimate Speech, on the other hand, audibly pauses for split seconds as fingers find their positions, in the same way that we stop to search for the right words.

Integral to Halvcirkel’s music is the way that their instruments weave and “braid”. It’s like a conversation, a discussion in flux. Vida’s power is the product of this synergy. The players’ ability to agree to disagree. Their differing viewpoints reflecting the world around us, and realising beauty when alighting on common ground. 

Good Medicine
Allting faller
Heiður Himinn
We Like Our Friends
Sænk Kun Dit Hoved, Du Blomst