Christian Meaas Svendsen – AVIN

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Christian Meaas Svendsen – AVIN

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CATALOGUE NR: NKM010CD/LP

BARCODE: CD 7090040250186, LP 7090040250193

RELEASE DATE: 11th May 2017

FORMAT: CD, LP, digital download, streaming

RECORDED:  Athletic Sound, Dag Erik Johansen, December 2016

MIXED/MASTERED: Alekander Sjølie, Kvadraturen Studios, January 2016/Morgan Nicolaysen, Propeller Mastering, February 2016

PRODUCED: Christian Meaas Svendsen

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Avin is the solo project of musician Christian Meaas Svendsen. The album consists of Norwegian lyrics in a traditional singer/songwriter-style wrapped in a somewhat challenging and unconventional format. The music is arranged for an 8-piece band consisting of some of Norway’s finest musicians.

Avin is a Kurdish maiden name meaning love. Avin is also the name of Svendsen’s girlfriend. The central theme on the album is their unfinished love, and the texts and the music describe Svendsen’s feelings and reflections in the turbulent phases of the relationship. Loss, anger and despair are repeating themes, but amidst it all there is hope and a strange kind of underlying positivism. The music is inspired from early American contemporary music, modern nordic improvised music and different types folk songs. The result is a more meek version of the modern contemporary music, a slightly more strict version of improvised music and jazz, and a somewhat detached way of presenting conventional singer/songwriter material. It is creative music with healthy resistance presented in an earnest, convincing and personal way.

 

TRACK LIST
1. Da du og jeg var vi
2. Kretsløp
3. Avin
4. i Berlin
5. Katarsis
6. 11 dager
7. Tørr og sliten jord

PERSONNEL
Christian M. Svendsen - vocals guitar
Vilde Alnæs - violin
Adrian Løseth Waade - viola
Kaja Fjellberg Petteren - cello
Inga Margrete Aas - double bass
Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø - trombone
Espen Reinertsen - tenor saxophone
Agnes Hvizdalek - vocals

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REVIEWS

Dave Summers – Bird is the Worm

There’s a heavy emotional weight that acts as a counterbalance to the lovely melodic persona of Avin. The key component that secures both qualities is how Christian Meaas Svendsen slips between evocative, poignant expressions with a fluid grace that’s almost stunning for its subtle transformations. The album is effectively split between two suites. The gentle lullaby of “Da du og var vi” transitions into the tense “Kretsløp” without a pause between, and the comforting tone becomes more ominous. And then this, too, shifts into the wistful titletrack “Avin.” Here, the harmonics reflect an uneasy state of existence… a far cry from the thick, heartmelting harmonies of the suite’s opening. Svendsen’s vocals are delivered with an even hand and a light touch, and nothing about those qualities hides the impassioned feelings of the words themselves.

“I Berlin” is a solitary piece that separates the two sections. The ensemble’s chamber music nature shines strongest here, and the seamless way in which the string section switches between a disarming and a choppy melodicism is emblematic of the album’s approach and its structure.

“Katarsis” begins the second section with silence, interrupted by spoken word that leads into the melancholy “11 Dager,” a song that features Svendsen’s acoustic guitar, a duet with another vocalist, and then a thin ray of sunlight at song’s end in the form of warm harmony from a children’s choir. Those harmonics lead right into the album finale “Tørr og sliten jord.” It’s a song that brings the album full circle with the emotional tones and personable tunefulness of the album’s opening track, but with a mood that shades more to a state of contemplation.

The album’s title and the artist’s liner notes indicate this album is about love and his current relationship and all of the turbulence, uncertainty and joy that comes with it. That assertion rings true from every note of this gorgeous album.

 

Adam Baruch - Soundtrack of my life

This is a solo project by Norwegian bassist / composer Christian Meaas Svendsen, which adds singer and songwriter to the list of his qualifications. The album presentsseven songs (six with lyrics in Norwegian and one instrumental), all by Svendsen, arranged for an octet, which comprises of his musical friends, including members of his ensemble Nakama, which is his usual musical environment.

Don´t be fooled by the "conventional" description above, as there is, as expected, nothing conventional about this album. The arrangements, which involve strings and brass (but no drums) are absolutely stunning intricate pieces of "friendly" AvantGarde, which transport the concept of "songs" into a completely new dimension. Svendsen sings / hums / recites and manipulates his voice in many innovative ways, again transforming the concept of "singing" into previously unexplored territory. He plays acoustic guitar on this album and leaves the bass part to another musician.

To be perfectly honest, any attempt to describe this music verbally is futile and the only way to get exposed to this music is of course by listening to it. In the world where almost everything created in music is derivative and follows patterns, such individuality and total lack of conventionality as present on this album are truly miraculous. Although this music eschews any precise  musical classification, openheaded listeners, who like amalgamations and exciting crossgenre explorations, will find this music irresistible. Jazz, Classical, Pop and everything in between, this music really manages to convince that not everything is lost in human creativity. Hats off!