Eivind Aarset / Jan Bang ‘Snow Catches on her Eyelashes’ LP/CD (Jazzland Recordings) 5/5

Listeners familiar with the music of Eivind Aarset (guitars, bass, electronics) and Jan Bang (programming, samples, editing) will have a good idea of what to expect from this album. Although the two musicians have collaborated since the early ’90s, featuring with artists such as Nils Petter Molvaer, Bugge Wesseltoft, Sly & Robbie and Jan Hassell, this is, in fact, their first recording together as a duo. Based on a live concept that emerged in the wake of Aarset’s excellent 2012 ECM release Dream Logic, which was produced by Bang, the roots for the music performed here can clearly be heard.

Ambient music is like any other genre, in that there can be good, bad and indifferent moments in time, punctuated by a piece of pure genius that takes the imagination on a timeless, wonderful journey. “Snow catches on her eyelashes” is overflowing with such beauty. Aarset and Bang have long been masters in this field of music, but on this album, it all comes together seamlessly in a sublime and emotively engaging journey of atmospheric sound.

Our lesson in musical craftsmanship begins with Purplebright, a slowly looping distant memory that sets the tone for the whole album. Asphalt Lake and Outer Sphere are two tracks that take me back to the Metheny/Mays masterpiece As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls. The music I’m listening to here could easily be a natural successor to that classic piece. Before The Wedding is more like an ode to sorrow… maybe it is, who knows… it is, however, one of the most emotively beautiful pieces of music I could hope to hear. Heartbreaking yet deeply uplifting, Two Days In June is reminiscent of a classic Eno track, with its simple yet spellbinding melodies cascading gently against a summer breeze. Whilst Witness has more of a retro 80’s feel to it, Inner Sphere is more 90s with its industrial soundscape sounding like something from a David Lynch movie. The atmosphere on Serenade is again cinematic in scope, yet achingly beautiful, more like a memory that brings forth an unnerving emotional response. The intense nature of Monochrome leads the listener into the final track Night Spell, a piece that completes the album’s cycle of sound perfectly, taking us back the beginning.

The skill with which Aarset and Bang have lovingly created, crafted and performed this music blows my mind. It’s like dreaming in slow motion, like teardrops touching a loved one’s cheek, and indeed, like snow catching on her eyelashes. It is beautiful, timeless and incredibly touching. Deeply rewarding music.

Mike Gates

Both Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset will be appearing as part of Punkt Birmingham which takes place 18-20 March 2020 at Royal BIRMINGHAM Conservatoire. Jan will be a very special guest with Birmingham based trio stillefelt (Percy Pursglove, Thomas Seminar Ford and Chris Mapp). Eivind will be remixing Trish Clowes and Louise McMonagle. Jan and Erik will also appear together in The Height Of The Reeds performance on the final night. Tickets and more information can be found here

Wednesday 18th March
Remixing The Festival Symposium (16:00)
Jan Bang, Erik Honoré, Tony Dudley-Evans, Sarah Farmer and Fiona Talkington discuss the future of festivals

Thursday 19th March
Trish Clowes and Louise McMonagle (21:30)
Remix by Erik Honoré, Arve Henriksen and Eivind Aarset

stillefelt with Jan Bang (20:00)
Remix by RBC and UOA students

Friday 20th March
The Height Of The Reeds (21:30)
Remix by Annie Mahtani and Chris Mapp

Thallein Ensemble plays Maja S.K.Ratkje (20:00)
Remix by Andrew Woodhead and Mark Sanders Punkt Birmingham concerts will be introduced by Fiona Talkington

Tickets// £15 one day // £25 both days // Symposium is free entry