Album Appreciation: Unexpected Isolation by David Kollar and Arve Henriksen

The COVID lockdown of 2020 from March onwards will, I am sure, be something that we will remember for a long time. How we remember it will probably depend on what happens over the next year or so (I am writing this in October 2020). How long and severe will the effects of this pandemic be? What will the world look like on the other side?

Up to now there has not me much ‘lockdown’ music released. Schedules being what they are most of the recent output seems to have come from that period before the virus hit; even though some of it has seemed to be quite prescient. For my own part a number of albums carried me through that strange initial time, none more than Norwegian Arve Henriksen’s 2010 release ‘Cartography’ which, as I explain here, seemed perfect for our fragmented times… a beautiful release which I felt I could really sink into… but also something of an escape for me.

Because of that I am now really pleased to be able to renew and intensify that connection with Henriksen’s music in this collaborative release with Slovakian multi-instrumentalist David Kollar, and available on CD and download on the following link:

I have to say straight away that, despite some delving, there does not seem to have been a lot of information about this; nevertheless I think that the title and track listing probably speak for themselves in terms of the time, manner and intention of this album.

Kollar and Henriksen have collaborated before on a number of releases and I image that they worked together on this collection of tracks from their respective spaces in Slovakia and Norway… in isolation, and isolated from each other.

The result is, what seems to me, a series of reflections/ meditations on the unprecedented times that we are living through… and as you listen to these you somehow build up a picture of this time.

Clearly there is a question of whether the titles of the tracks effect the way that the music is received, but surely this is the point… and since discovering this album, quite by chance when looking for more of Henriksen’s titles, I have found myself meditating more on where we are and what has happened this year.

I have certainly found that repeat listens to this music has lead me to reflect deeply of the sense of isolation, the nature of the virus and the sort of outcomes that may occur as a resolution to the pandemic.

But as well as a collective layering of ideas I find that each one of these tracks also reflects an individual vignette of what I have experienced so far this year as the two musicians take us through a variety of textures and sounds … in different places, for instance you can sense the frustration, the unease, the feeling of isolation… also of loss and fragmentation. It really seems to cover the full gamut of the emotions I am sure that we have also felt and struggled with during this time.

But, as I found with ‘Cartography’ there is an inherent sense of beauty and calm that finds its way throughout this cycle… something that emanates from the depth of feeling that both these musicians put into their work (and I urge you to check out the back catalogue of each of them)… and I am sure that they both confronted their own feelings when putting this collection together.

This, then, is very much an album for our times, and one which I’m am sure many will benefit from hearing (on repeat would be my recommendation)… but also a set which I am sure I will be listening to for many years to come, not only as a reflection of this time, but as a way of contemplating many of the universal feelings that we all have, that perhaps were magnified in the 2020 lockdown.



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