Essential New Music: Nicolas Leirtrø/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten/Ståle Storløkken’s “Heaven Hill Fragmentarium”

There’s a story that when Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton were on set making Batman, the former advised the latter that sometimes you just have to let the wardrobe do the acting. While we can’t find any witnesses to confirm this, sound evidence suggests that when baritone guitarist Nicolas Leirtrø, electric bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and keyboardist Ståle Storløkken gathered at the Heaven Hill Studio in Selsbakk, Norway, they swore this oath: “This time, let the volts make the decisions.”

Leirtrø and Flaten’s buzzing feedback assails Storløkken’s atonal organ licks on “Garden Party,” and you can’t help but sense the sizzle and feel the jolt when “Electronic Dance Fragment 2” blasts off at the beginning of side two. Don’t let that name trick you, by the way; the track may have beats, but they’re zapped out of sequence by malevolent raygun blasts. There’s no fence around this music, just motivating energy and a commitment to spontaneous creation.

The collective experience of Leirtrø, Flaten and Størlokken encompasses rocking out with Motorpsycho, zoning out with I Like To Sleep, blowing it out with the Thing and cranking up the fusion-jazz velocity with Krokofant. But the most apposite comparison would be Supersilent, Storløkken’s sui generis avant-garde ensemble. Like Supersilent, this trio improvises music that creates its own form and maintains its own atmosphere.

—Bill Meyer