Essential New Music: Lumen Drones’ “Umbra”

Maybe someone told you about a band you really need to hear. They’re three lifer musicians, and they play instrumentals using fiddle, drums and electric guitar. Maybe you said that you already know about the Dirty Three? If so, then you still need to be clued in to Lumen Drones. This trio hails from Norway, and traditionalScandinavian sounds are twisted tightly into their DNA.

Nils Økland plays a folkloric Hardanger fiddle in additional to his more familiar violin, and he’s been mixing folk and jazz in various projects since the 1980s. Guitarist Per Steinar Lie and drummer Ørjan Haaland, on the other hand, are part of the Low Frequency In Stereo, a rock combo that’s won awards in its native land. Put them together and they make a sound that’s bears some resemblance to the Dirty Three’s. Økland’s bowing will tug at your heartstrings, while Lie’s churning chords put a boot up your backside—and there are occasions where Haaland implies the beat by playing everything around it. But Lumen Drones balances these elements with crisp grooves, pithy melodic statements and a dignified air that’s the polar opposite of the Three’s unabashed sloppiness. 

—Bill Meyer