Peter Jørgensen – Alt i Stykker

It was all in pieces. In the blink of an eye, everything had changed. But endings reveal new beginnings. And like a true creative soul, Danish sound artist and film composer Peter Jørgensen turned loss into art – as a way of coping and understanding and mourning and processing, yes, but also, with determination, to make something positive out of discouragement, and to heal from a painful wound. With his latest work, he’s been there and done that: been to the edge, glanced down at the lengthy drop, and come dangerously close to a fatal slip. Emotional turbulence has led to a musical refinement: it’s been put through the fire to make gold. Suffering has ultimately strengthened and reinforced the music, and it’s enabled him to take his sound further than ever before.

Continuing on from 2014’s Gold Beach, which saw an eschewing of computer-based sounds for a promotion of acoustic methods and fragmented improvisations, Alt I Stykker, which means ‘all in pieces’, is a much broader work. Focused on melodic sound, it brings together the classically trained vocals of Caroline Olesen and Morten Grove Frandsen, but contributions can be found throughout: Zelienople’s Mike Weis (drums), composer Johan Carøe (synths), Nicole Hogstrand (cello), Pauline Hogstrand (viola), and Claus Højensgaard (trumpet) are all major influencers on the album’s temperature.

It’s a fierce opening, veering into disquieting terrain with an opening voice – as if God Himself were speaking life into existence with a Let There Be Light – and an overwhelming crash of sound, a disorienting orchestra, signalling the dawn of the Universe. A genesis. A quiet falls over the music, with the sounds gestating and evolving over millions of years. Like the prehistoric scene in Disney’s Fantasia, the music is drawn in queasy colours and a vivid, slightly toxic palette, like a fever dream made all-too-real, fermenting in stagnant swamps, growing legs and other limbs before tentatively pushing itself out of its sea and into a strange (and perhaps dangerous) land.

Jørgensen evolves, too. The music is recovering from heartache or heartbreak, learning to walk again after tragedy, first crawling, and then walking, and then bending, and then standing up. Jørgensen’s music isn’t tentative, though. Strings gradually come in, and the record shifts between a quicker stride and the lethargy of an early afternoon siesta, growing and relaxing, its differing rhythms floating in a pool of elegance, simplicity, and serenity. Strings and voice shape an intimate portrait, and the artist’s inner world becomes a transparent, visible place. This is a lament and a breakthrough. The work coalesced and culminated in a live performance at Copenhagen’s Frederik’s Church at the end of 2018, documenting ‘the aftermath of loss’. Alt I Stykker releases June 13 on the Danish community label No Technique.

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