Terje Isungset, Ice Music (Kings Place)

Terje Isungset

As with Scott Walker’s Drifting and Tilting, I’d been looking forward to this Terje Isungset concert for some time. In case the name is unfamiliar, is a rather lovely percussionist from Norway. He’s recorded with Arve Henriksen on Reise and Floating Rhythms. His work is characterised by an intense sense of listening and stillness (although when I saw him a few years ago at the Queen Elizabeth Hall his performance was at times like a whirlwind, review here).

Terje Isungset

He seems to have focused now upon music made using ice, with his first release, Iceman Is, in 2002 succeeded by Igloo, Two Moons and this year’s Ice Concerts.

Terje Isungset

The sounds he elicits from big blocks of ice, ice horn, ice percussion, etc is spectral, simultaneously ageless and ancient. He loops and amplifies live samples to create echoing, pendant drops, brittle booms and eery calls. At Kings Place, two young girls blew bubbles at his direction into the close-mic’ed blocks (seen in the first two pics) while the singer intoned a wordless accompaniment.

Terje Isungset

Amusingly enough, although long anticipated, the concert lasted an all too brief ten minutes, there seemed to be two sessions and I guess the instruments wouldn’t last a lot longer in the relatively temperate climate of the Kings Place basement. Ironic – as Terje told the audience that they were made from a Norwegian glacier and were two thousand years old. Still, the music was spellbinding. I’m glad to say Amy enjoyed it a lot and it further reinforced my desire to witness a longer concert in the ice hotel or elsewhere in northern Scandinavia, dragging Is and Gabes along if they’ll let me.

Terje Isungset

See also: Terje Isungset’s website which contains sound samples.


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