Magnus Granberg - Nattens skogar
Magnus Granberg - Nattens skogar
Magnus Granberg - Nattens skogar

Magnus Granberg – Nattens skogar (version for four players)
Cyril Bondi – d’incise – Magnus Granberg – Anna Lindal

Cyril Bondi: percussions, harmonica
d’incise: electronic, tuned objects, harmonicas
Magnus Granberg: prepared piano, composition
Anna Lindal: violin

Duration 50′

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Also available at Bandcamp.
Distributed by Metamkine.

For the first time available here on vinyl, Magnus Granberg music has gain a good reputation through the years and his excellent serie of publications by the british label Another Timbre and his Skogen group. This time on a small, quartet, formation, Magnus Granberg, on prepared piano, and violinist Anna Lindal are joined by Cyril Bondi and d’incise, from the Diatribes duo and many more, whom where already part of the 10tet recording of « How Deep is the Ocean, How High is the Sky? » in 2015.
« Nattens skogar » is a piece of evoluting materials, fragments, of melodies, of multiple pulses, of tones and soft noises, in a seemingly perfect balance, with this inimitable melancolic touch and sens of endless time we often find in Granberg’s work. It was originally intended for the Swedish ensemble Skogen and its materials are partly derived from two pieces of quite decidedly nocturnal musics, Erik Satie’s nocturnes, and Thelonious Monk’s ”Monk’s Mood”, a composition Magnus had listened quite intensely to for quite some time before writing this piece. It borrows its title, « Nattens skogar”, from the Swedish translation of Djuna Barnes’s novel ”Nightwood” and it is quite obviously a pun, referring to the use of nocturnal musics as a source material for the piece, and to the Skogen ensemble’s name. This version, of the rather open score, was recorded in Stockholm in april 2016.

October 2017.

Recorded in Stockholm, april 5th 2016.
Mixed by d’incise. Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi.
Cut by Adi Flück/Central dubs.

I’m starting to think of Magnus Granberg’s music the way I think of late Morton Feldman: each one is the same yet each one is different. The restrained but taut atmosphere of extreme focus prevails, over an extended span of time. Other than that, I don’t want to make comparisons. That shared attention to the small details living inside sound comes from a different place. Granberg’s scores, described as “rather open”, seem designed to allow more liberty to the performers than Feldman would permit. This approach needs the tradition of free improvisation that has developed over the last half-century, and skilled, sympathetic performers.
His regular ensemble of players, Skogen, has released several discs on Another Timbre, ranging from a ten-piece electroacoustic ensemble to a quintet. On this new release from Insub, his 2015 ensemble piece Nattens skogar is presented in a version reduced to just four musicians. Again, everything’s the same yet it’s all different. As with other recent works, Nattens skogar (it’s the Swedish translation of Nightwood) draws inspiration and material from pre-existing music; in this case, Erik Satie’s nocturnes and Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Mood”. As before, any resemblance to the source would not be detected by the uninformed listener. The nocturnal theme suits Granberg’s, and his musicians’, palettes of sounds both dark and frail.
In this setting, every sound is set in stark relief. Part of this may be due to the recording, which sounds very close. Background noises, seemingly inadvertent, colour the music, unless it is Cyril Bondi’s percussion. Granberg plays his prepared piano in slow motion, Anna Lindal’s violin merges with harmonicas played by Bondi and d’incise. d’incise adds electronics and ‘tuned objects’ – the buzz and hum of line noise and distortion adds an unnerving edge to the music. Anything that may be construed as a slow, unhurried flow through the fifty minutes or so is upset by subtle but indelible shifts in mood; this may be down to the shadowy presence of Satie. At the beginning, events are punctuated by an ominous knocking; in the latter half of the piece, intrusions such as electric organ or bass drum cast the other instruments in a new light. It strikes me as the clearest expression I’ve yet heard of the aesthetic world Granberg has constructed and might be the best place to start for newcomers. Ensemble Grizzana is premiering a new work by him next month in Huddersfield, which I would like to witness.
One quibble: Insub have released this on vinyl, as so many small, adventurous labels must to make ends meet these days, and as a download. It’s a shame the download version preserves the fadeout and break into two tracks from the vinyl instead of offering an uninterrupted experience. In the pause, you can hear how the ‘silence’ is charged with electrical hum, ambient noise, hiss.

Ben Harper / Boring like a drill

A forest at night is a strange, sometimes unsettling place. Visibility, already limited during the hours of daylight, is reduced to a bare minimum; trees turn to black featureless stone, only the vaguest of outlines apparent. The sound world shifts as the day’s cast of characters give way to the night’s: insects and night predators take the place of more familiar singers in the open air concert hall. Non-human fauna become bolder and more adventurous as the courage of humans fades. In the distance, you may hear a wolf’s howling dialogue with the moon.
When creating an impression of or response to such an environment, listening experience suggests that mimicking its constituent sounds is less important than providing a structure that changes in the same way as the forest at night changes. Such unfoldings are often unfamiliar or even imperceptible to humans. When I first started listening to Magnus Granberg’s “Nattens Skogar” (“Night Forests”), performed here by the composer along with Cyril Bondi, d’incise, and Anna Lindal, my initial impression was of an absence of structure, particularly compared with the returning narrative of Granberg’s “How Deep Is The Ocean, How Wide Is The Sky”. However, I slowly came to realise that the music is indeed carefully structured, but in a way that creates an open space rather than a linear path. The four musicians quietly go about their nightly routine, separately but keenly aware of each other. Meetings and coincidences occur, but the motivations for these are hidden from the sight of the human interloper stumbling through the undergrowth. How much the use of improvisation contributes to this impression is hard for the listener to discern.
Granberg’s music is sometimes described as melancholy. Putting aside recent discoveries regarding the social life of trees, the inner sensations of whom must surely remain inscrutable to humans, a forest at night is neither gloomy nor happy, threatening nor comforting — any emotions present are a result of our projection onto it, rather than emerging from the forest itself, even though it often seems very much otherwise. I tend to hear “Nattens Skogar” in the same way: its intention is not to stir any particular emotional response, but to simply be what it is, however that ends up making the listener feel. The restraint and control shown by the four musicians clearly contributes to this letting the music be itself, with no instances of overplaying or hamming it up. It’s rare that I get to experience the singular pleasures of a forest at night, but “Nattens Skogar”, in its own way, is very effective in facilitating a similar mode of experience.
Nathan Thomas / Fluid Radio

Si l’on ne compte plus les compositeurs influencés
par Morton Feldman, AMM, etc., il
arrive à certains d’entre eux de créer à leur
tour. C’est le cas de Magnus Granberg, pianiste
(sur piano préparé) qui interprète ici
une de ses compositions en compagnie d’Anna
Lindal (violon), Cyril Bondi (percussions
et harmonicas) et D’incise (électronique, objets
et harmonicas).
Au son du grisli, Magnus Granberg s’était
fait remarquer à l’occasion de deux publications
Another Timbre : Skogen : Ist Gefallen
in den Schnee, enregistré auprès de l’ensemble
Skogen – Anna Lindal, déjà, y tenait
le violon tout comme Angharad Davies – et
Would Fall from the Sky, Would Wither and
Die – Anna Lindal, encore, en Skuggorna
Och Ljuset. Avec le duo suisse Bondi / D’incise,
Granberg et Lindal enveloppent leur
entente d’un peu d’électronique – « envelopper
», c’est bien ce à quoi D’incise travaille
ici, notamment dans la seconde partie de la
Celle-ci, sera partie sous l’impulsion de
coups timides donnés aux bois (piano, percussions)
pour bientôt faire son affaire du
frisson d’un archet ou d’harmoniques de
connivence avec des souffles courts passés
en harmonica. De l’association naît un larsen
qui saturera avant de s’éteindre quand se
feront entendre des réductions d’accords de
piano. C’est de cette manière que les musiciens
ont chassé la monotonie qui menaça un
instant et réussi à intéresser jusqu’au terme
de Nattens Skoger.
Le son du grisli #3 / Guillaume Belhomme

In his compositions for the Stockholm-based group Skogen, Magnus Granberg embeds improvisational opportunities within a specifically prescribed, generally unemphatic sound world. This is a guy who can place Toshimaru Nakamura into a performance of music inspired by Schubert and have it make sense. It’s all about balance, and that principal is also at work in Nattens Skrogar. Granberg has just three accompanists on this album length piece, and while its progress feels more open, there’s a similar exercise of restraint in order to accomplish a particular feel and sound. Magnus has credited “Monk’s Mood” by Thelonious Monk and Erik Satie’s nocturnes as inspiration; I’d bring up Morton Feldman as well. Each instrumental voice has plenty of space around it, which makes the moments where sounds blend feel quietly momentous. Granberg’s prepared piano playing creeps so slowly through scraps of melody that you almost forget they are there; Skogen violinist Anna Lindal’s long tones string them together like a lit-up suspension bridge spanning a misty stream at dusk. His touch is less vigorously clankety than Monk’s, but similarly effective at making you aware of what isn’t around it. The quartet’s other half, the Swiss duo of d’incise (electronics, harmonica) and Cyril Bondi (percussion, harmonica), partner with Grandberg in plunking down sounds so that you feel their ripples in time.
Dusted magazine / Bill Meyer

Before this release, Magnus Granberg‘s music had only been issued on Another Timbre, a total of five albums mainly featuring the large ensemble Skogen in which the composer plays piano or clarinet. On the most recent of those albums, 2015′s How Deep is the Ocean, How High is the Sky?, a tentet playing baroque instruments included Granberg on prepared piano, his frequent collaborator Anna Lindal on baroque violin, plus the Swiss Diatribes duo of d’incise on objects & electronics and Cyril Bondi on objects & percussion. So, it is not a total surprise that this new release—issued on vinyl LP and download—appears on d’incise and Bondi’s INSUB label, with the music performed by a quartet of Granberg, Lindal, d’incise and Bondi. Recorded in Stockholm in April 2016, the music consists of two extended tracks, corresponding to the two sides of an LP, totalling fifty minutes.
Apparently, the composition was originally played by Skogen (see the YouTube clip below for evidence). However, this four-player version works well, never sounding as if it lacks anything. As with past Granberg compositions, « Nattans Skogar » references other compositions, in this case Erik Satie nocturnes and Thelonious Monk’s « Monk’s Moods »; as with past pieces, the influence of such references is subtle and there are no heavy-handed quotations from the sources. Altogether, the piece is a model of economy, with plenty of space allowing the sounds of individual instruments to be heard and savoured. « Nattens Skogar » translates as « Night Wood, » which is fitting as Granberg’s music succeeds in conjuring up the tranquil ambience of its subject matter in the same way that David Tudor’s « Rainforest » conveyed its subject’s rather busier mood.
With each new composition, recording and concert appearance, Granberg continues building an impressive body of work that is essential listening.
John Eyles/All about jazz

Magnus Granberg Nattens skogar (version for four players) Insub records insub.rec.lp.01 2017 Quel chemin parcouru par les inséparables D’Incise et Cyril Bondi ! Nous les retrouvons en quartet avec Magnus Granberg et Anna Lindal, sur des compositions à l’origine écrites pour un ensemble suédois du nom de Skogen. Le piano de Magnus est assez central, sur des notes longues à la Eric Satie, auxquelles répondent des électroniques proches de l’orgue, dans les basses. Les harmonicas apportent une touche mélodique et lo-fi à la fois. Une électroacoustique fine perfore malgré tout un tapis de cordes grincées, serrées. Une ambiance assez américaine parfois, dans le blues rêche, l’harmonica sans doute y tient un rôle, l’ambiguité des râles sonores évoquent une fenêtre qui grince, un piano se fait cinématographique. En somme une électroacoustique européenne sans l’être et questionnant aussi le rapport du musicien à celle-ci en 2017. La manipulation, les légères percussions, me raménent au solo de L’Ocelle Mare, dans son pur côté artisanal et brut. Que l’on retrouve parfois aussi chez les productions de Corvo records. Je pense que l’on tient avec ce disque un petit labo de formes nouvelles injectées dans cette improvisation européenne. Avec un jeu sur les dynamiques plus qu’intéressant, sur les résonances à coup surs, injectant des thèmes presque trad, dans l’approche folk du terme. La participation de D’incise au trio La Tène en est sans doute pour quelque chose. Deux pièces rares qui me renouent avec le minimalisme et place le geste au centre des débats. Une excellente surprise pour deux pièces d’environ 25 minutes chacune. Une par face.
Cyrille LANOE / Revue & corrigée

Magnus Granberg is a Swedish musician who has been well represented in this country on the Another Timbre label, with a series of releases which Lawrence Dunn has praised; “each piece feels like a picture of the same world, the same landscape, but seen from a different angle.” Granberg usually performs with an Ensemble of players, including violinist Angharad Davies, or with his group Skogen. Today he’s here with a piece called Nattens Skogar (Version For Four Players) (INSUB. RECORDS INSUB.REC.LP.01), which might just be his first excursion on vinyl. So far it seems likely that Granberg is another advanced composer who, through the use of “open scores”, is interested in blurring the distinction between composed/arranged music and free improvisation. In his own words, “it’s collectively and spontaneously organised: even though the musical materials…are specified to quite a large extent, the organisation of the material within a rough, temporal framework is very much a result of spontaneous processes and choices.”
These speculations are also borne out to some extent by the choice of musicians he works with. Swiss improvisers Cyril Bondi and d’incise 1, both regulars in these pages in their group work and duo work as Diatribes, are here playing percussion, electronics, and harmonicas. There’s also the violinist Anna Lindal (member of Skogen and Granberg’s other performing group, Skuggorna Och Ljuset), while Magnus Granberg plays the prepared piano. Slow-moving, extremely precise music is the result of these calibrations, arrangements, and selection of simpatico players; every understated tone and percussive beat has its place in the fabric, is presented and realised with a certain deliberation. The subtle ever-changing repetitions and pulses are clearly the result of great clarity of thought and arrangement.
Nattens Skogar may be wistful in its mood, but there’s also a certain spirituality and a calm centre to the work; the music would be a balm to a troubled soul. While I can unequivocally recommend this to listeners who enjoy Morton Feldman (the fabric of Nattens Skogar is not unlike Feldman’s apprehension of a musical score as a Persian carpet), the specific influences in this case were the nocturnes of Erik Satie and a particular piece by Thelonious Monk. Excellent

Ed Pinsent / The sound projector

Along these lines of quiet and minimal improvisation is the LP by Magnus Granberg, who was a
long time ago a member of Sheriff (see Vital Weekly 299) and whose name later popped up in other
configurations of an improvised nature. Here he has piece of music of which he is the composer and
also playing the prepared piano part. The three other players are Cyril Bondi (percussions, harmonicas),
D’incise (electronics, objects, harmonicas; together with Bondi they form the duo Diatribes) and Anna
Lindal (violin). “« Nattens skogar » is a piece of evoluting materials, fragments, of melodies, of multiple
pulses, of tones and soft noises, in a seemingly perfect balance, with this inimitable melancholic touch
and sense of endless time we often find in Granberg’s work”, it says as information and the rather free
form playing of objects (short tones), harmonicas (long tones) and these crossing over to each other.
This is, I’d say, one piece that stretches out over the two sides of the record. There is no story as such,
so you can start with ‘2’ and continue with ‘1’ if you want something else for a change. “It borrows its
title, “Nattens skogar”, from the Swedish translation of Djuna Barnes’s novel ”Nightwood” and it is quite
obviously a pun, referring to the use of nocturnal musics as a source material for the piece”. Some of the
tones this quartet sends out reminded me of wind chimes. The sound is totally acoustic but you could
be fooled at times, I guess. There is a total refinement in this, leaping from sounds one perfectly
recognizes as, say, a piano or violin, to the more abstract approaches of the harmonicas and objects;
whatever these objects may be. This quartet may work along the lines of a score prepared by Granberg,
but I expect this not be anything else than a few worded instructions or a single sheet of paper with a
few lines, arrows and dots; not to sound negative but to indicate how these things sometimes work.
The fine-line between what is composed exactly and why is it perhaps different from improvisation is
of course highly debatable, and it doesn’t really matter as far as I am concerned. Both Verhoeven/
Serries and Magnus Granberg offer food for thought in that respect, but maybe not try to think too
much about it and simply enjoy the result.
Vital Weekly / FdW

Van een totaal andere orde is de muziek van de Zweedse componist en muzikant Magnus Granberg. Na eerdere releases op Another Timbre en met verschillende bands op onder andere Häpna en Bombax Bombax, presenteert hij hier zijn werk Nattens Skogar op het Zwitserse label INSUB.records van Cyril Bondi en D’Incise, die op deze plaat, naast Anna Lindal, ook mee spelen.
Als je bekent bent met labels zoals Another Timbre en INSUB.records dan weet je dat je hier muziek kunt verwachten waar veel ruimte is voor stilte. Zo ook dus op deze plaat.
De “Four Players” spelen hier prepared piano (Granberg) electronica & harmonica (D’Incise), percussie & harmonica (Bondi) en viool (Lindal).
Al de instrumenten krijgen de ruimte om zich te laten horen, maar vooral ook om zich niet te laten horen. Tussen de instrumenten heerst er zo’n balans dat ze eigenlijk niet direct opvallen, dat terwijl ze er wel heel de tijd zijn. Langzaam evolueren de geluiden zich waardoor steeds nieuwe structuren ontstaan. En dat alles dus heel ingetogen.
Ik vind dit zo’n fijne plaat omdat er ogenschijnlijk zeer weinig lijkt te gebeuren, maar als je heel aandachtig gaat luisteren, worden de melodieën en veranderingen daarin steeds duidelijker. Dit is wat voor mij dit soort muziek zo leuk maakt.
Sietse van Erve /