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Alexander Rishaug - Possible Landscape

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Alexander Rishaug

Alexander Rishaug is a sound artist and musician based in Olso, Norway. His sound is melodic, melancholic and often quiet. Rishaug explores tones and textures through the use of electronics, field recordings, toys or simply just playing around with an instrument. Rishaug combines an intimate knowledge of his musical equipment with the curiousness of an amateur.

The result is always a detailed, rich and subtle sound, with a sharp focus on structure, rhythm and melodies. His sonic landscapes build and expand slowly, thereby moving the listener along an exploration of the experience of time. Acoustic and digital sounds are blended so that thte origin is sometimes difficult to trace, and this ambivalence is a creative source in Rishaug's music.

The music can be described as small melodic changes, amplified clicks and skipping sounds, random shifts and breaks. Rishaug always begins by searching for a distinct quality in the sound. The origins of the sounds are often from Rishaug's own playing, but can just as easily be the result of asking friends to play and record some material for possible future use. One example of this is 'The Mountain Song' which is based on an organ sample that Rishaug once played and recorded, then processed, re-played and edited. The end result is a warm and beautiful sound with random skipping and unexpected shifts, consisting of both melodic and abstract elements. This combination is related to a musical approach that informs Rishaug's general musical process.

Among the musical references we find minimalist old-timers such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley, whose repetitive patterns and drones respectively, form the basis of much of Rishaug's album 'Possible Landscape' (2004). These song structures are combined with a sonic palette that is equally informed by post-90's electronic music and glitch as by composers such as Pierre Henry and Bernhard Parmigiani. In particular there are many traces of the same kind of emotional use of electro-acoustic sounds that is found in Parmigiani's music. Although the glitch-sound will continue to be associated with Oval and the Mille Plateaux-label there is little in Rishaug's music that resembles this kind of coldly theoretical and clinically depersonalized sound. Rather, there is in Rishaug's music always a deeply human warmth that more resembles the personal investment of a singer-songwriter than a laptop-musician. The patient listener will pick up on these qualities and as a result the experience of Rishaug's music is rich with potential listening pleasure.

Erlend Hammer (No)