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Blue Lake Stikling

Label
Polychrome
Released
16th February 2023

Format Info

LP - black vinyl

*Slight seam split at top*

Previously sold out, this is the second pressing of this quietly stunning piece of meditative music from Scandinavia. The work of Danish resident Jason Dungan, he recorded Stikling as Blue Lake in 2020 on a residency in Andersabo, Sweden. The tracks on Stikling are all based on drones, often buried low in the mix, recorded on an organ in a nearby church. These sustained tones are used as springboards from which Dungan gracefully takes flight. Never overwhelming, sometimes the drones simply drift in while a zither is dancing in the upper register. Sometimes the drones swirl on their own, soon to be met by a simple percussion pattern that triggers the mind to focus.

It’s all so simple and beautiful, with a narrative that gets fuller as the album progresses. By the time we get to Side 2 closer Shoots, there’s a light groove holding the drone down with subtle elements drifting in. The effect is gently uplifting, well tempered, fully formed yet unintrusively beguiling. The title track takes the whole of side B, a 19 minute piece of long-form composition which also features the most sonorous of the drones, with two tones dovetailing, in and out of sync and tune, causing different vibrations in the listeners’ third ear. Rather than crescendo into a predictable, full zenith, the track performs a dignified falling apart into zithers arpeggiating and plucking, like some sort of angelic serenade from a cloud above an otherwise cloudless Swedish coastline.
“A lot of the last Blue Lake LP was made using a series of zithers that I built myself. I have always been interested in layering sounds, and had in the past made music by recording several guitar parts and putting them together. The zithers allowed me to explore this kind of layered playing live, as both hands can be used simultaneously to create overlapping patterns. In the summer that I started recording Stikling, I built a much larger 48-string zither that expanded a lot of these possibilities and ended up featuring in a lot of the new music.

Each piece on Stikling began with some kind of drone – an organ tone or a frozen note on the cello. A particular phrase on piano or a series of clarinet chords would start to determine a structure, and the music grew over time, with parts being added, taken away, re-written, re-recorded.

The word “stikling” in Danish means a cutting taken from a plant that is then set in new soil. During the past two years, I’ve been working with gardening – planting, collecting seeds, and making cuttings. These processes often involve a mix of creation and destruction – growth goes hand in hand with removing old material and cutting things down. This kind of circularity fed into the music as it was being developed for the LP. After starting on the church organ in summer 2020, I finished by recording on the little pump organ at Andersabo in summer 2021. “

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