Arne Nordheim
Dodeka CD

"Dodeka" is the Greek term for the number 12, and 12 early pieces by Norwegian avantgarde composer Arne Nordheim have been gathered on this retrospective album. Expect an impressive journey through a world full of sonic marvels, for the first time available to the listening public.

Arne Nordheim, born in 1931, has been experimenting with electronic music since the late 1950ies when he had become fed up with conventional compositional techniques and the limitations of acoustic instruments. Electronic music promised a whole array of new possibilities which Arne was eager to embrace. He has since become a major force behind the experimental and electronic music scene in Scandinavia and way beyond.

Here's the story behind the 12 pieces on "Dodeka" in short: between 1967 and 1972, Arne Nordheim had worked at a recording studio of Polish Radio in Warsaw. In those days, synthesizers and electronic equipment were far from being commonplace instruments and most of these units were so expensive and complicated that only recording studios could afford to buy them. Compared to today's standards the equipment Nordheim has used at the Warsaw studio more than 30 years ago was of course quite rudimentary and offered limited possibilities. It is the more astonishing that the pieces on "Dodeka" do in fact sound modern and nothing short of highly expressive.

"Dodeka" could be seen as a concept album. The 12 pieces are all about 3 minutes long and they have titles that implicate an inherent structure. The album starts off with "Searching", a minimal composition with huge blocks of silence between the sound clusters. A sombre soundscape is contrasted by sounds that resemble twittering birds. Next is "Hovering" featuring high-pitched bell- and (again) bird-like sounds in an atmosphere that reminds of an underground cave. "Awaiting" is not so much different sound-wise, but there is more melodic movement. Track 4 is called "Meeting" and shows a lot more unrest than the previous titles, while a mighty chime-like sound comes in halfway through the piece.

"Return" could be a sonic translation of the battle between shadow and light, while "Distance" introduces some noises and hisses, but becomes more joyful towards the end. "Crossroad" however creates a dark and depressing mood that is followed by the ambiguous pieces "Near" and "Bits". Next in line is "Calm", but the title is a bit misleading: quite some tension in there. "Sliding" is again sombre and strange and paves the way for the finale that sums up all the preceding pieces: "Summa". Indeed, it seems as if all the sounds from the other 11 tracks have been gathered here. Of course, this is the most complex piece on "Dodeka".

A highly individual, minimal, almost ambient album - and not the least outdated.

(rh 08/MMIII)

Label: Rune Grammofon
>> Rune Grammofon Website

"Dodeka" = 12 early electronic pieces by Arne Nordheim