on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2023 21 Jun

Solstice (Last Two Inches Of Sky)

von: ijb Filed under: Blog | TB | 3 Comments

As I am just now finding out the most affordable travel options for my trip to Kristiansand for this year’s „Punkt Festival“, I am also working on some photos and videos for the new duo album Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang are going to present on the festival’s final night. The new album, „Last Two Inches Of Sky“, is quite a departure from their previous work, and the two invited a number of diverse international guests into the studio to contribute to this new album. And they are going to welcome most of these guests (and more) at Punkt this year. It is going to be an exceptionally rich three days for the festival with musicians from many different countries, generations, and musical backgrounds. So I am looking forward to travel to Kristiansand – by train and ferry again, this time taking along my bike as well – with one of my oldest friends, who I am sure will be invigorated by the music and by his first actual trip to Norway (even if it’s only the southermost tip of the multifarious country).

I met  with Eivind and Jan a few of weeks ago to take some photos and ask them about their new album; here’s a shortened and condensed version of our talk.





ijb: You did two duo records together before, as well as many other collaborations and concerts throughout the years. What was your starting point this time to reach these very different results? 


JB: We had done „Dream Logic“ that I produced, Eivind’s record on ECM. And after that, „Snow Catches on her Eyelashes“ came out as a duo record. We had been exploring different atmospheres on that album, mostly improvised, but also composed in the studio. This time we wanted to come from a different angle. We wanted to make something very rhythmical. I had just bought an album of new electronic music from Congo. And the very high tempos were something that both of us really enjoyed. So that was kind of the starting point. 


On your previous records, rhythm is never that much in the center of the music. So it was a different process this time? How did you work on these rhythms?


EA: Absolutely different. With „Dream Logic“, the starting point was finding new ways to use the guitar. Through the live gigs we found ways of playing together, which we developed further on „Snow Catches“. The starting point [on this new record] was like an experiment. Three or four pieces came out really quickly. But then we spent lots of time [on developing more music] afterwards. The inspiration came not only from African music, but our common work with Jon Hassell has also been an inspiration on this new album to go into a much more rhythmical direction, not necessarily in a metrical way, also parallel rhythms, sometimes different tempos at the same time.


From working with Jon Hassell what could you take up during the making of this record?


JB: Patterns. Jon was really focused on patterns, but in different tempos. He would have one pattern going in a certain way and another pattern going in another way, which is very close to nature. If you listen to birds singing [for example], you can hear that this is very much part of Jon’s idea – you have one bird singing, then another bird singing [something else] – a call and response thing, not in the jazz sense where you play something and mimic it, but a very natural way of using rhythm. That is basically what his his work with tape loops is based on. He worked closely with Terry Riley and LaMonte Young and of course Brian Eno. And the way that they developed this loop thing, coming out of minimalism, has proven very interesting for us.

EA: We didn’t have drummers on our previous duo albums. Now Adam Rudolph is playing percussion on most of the tracks, Anders Engen is playing drums. That also added a totally different vibe than before.

JB: Audun Erlien did some overdubs on bass, and we played some of the recordings live together in the studio. And we traveled to New York to record Nona Hendryx [former singer] of Labelle. And that has become a very fruitful collaboration. Then there is also Tim Elsenburg of Sweet Billy Pilgrim.

EA: And Gianluca Petrella from Italy playing trombone on one track.





When I was listening to the album, I instantly thought of „Remain in Light“, and Jon Hassell was also influential on Talking Heads‘ music back then. I don’t remember if he actually played on „Remain in Light“, but I think he was asked to?


EA: He played on at least one track.

JB: „Houses in Motion“.

EA: And Nona Hendryx is on „Remain in Light“ as well.

JB: Yes, Jon Hassell was very influential, both for Eno and for David Byrne. So they decided to do „My Life in the Bush of Ghosts“ together, which was very much based on Jon’s ideas. And then things happened, and for different reasons they decided to do it as a duo. But Jon’s ideas and philosophy is something that is part of both Eivind’s and my DNA. We come from that way of thinking and we really respect his philosophy. And I think he has brought so much to the table – as a musician, but also as a music philosopher, not in words necessarily, but with his actions in music. „Remain in Light“ is of course a result of that. Jon, David Byrne, and Brian Eno, they were hanging out for two or three years in New York around that time, exploring ideas. And at least Jon was presenting a lot of music to the others, sort of global music.

EA: Yeah. These three albums they made within one year – „Remain in Light“, „My Life in the Bush of Ghosts“ and „Possible Musics“ under Jon’s name, which was also with Brian Eno – all of those are really influential for me.

JB: And they use tape loops. The tape, depending on how big the loop was, would go out of the control room into the studio, and they would use forks, mic stands and whatever to hold these tapes in order to make the tape go round and round. And of course with tape, most of the time it’s not in sync. So you would create these types of rhythm that you could not necessarily count as one piece or one rhythm, but multiple rhythms or multiple tempos. These are some of the of the ideas from the starting point for this new record, „Last Two Inches of Sky“. There’s so still so much to explore. Things that are outside of these type of systems. It belongs more to our imagination, to our way of breathing and talking and walking and listening to things that surround us.


Hearing you play live yesterday, it’s fascinating to see and hear how much of the music you actually develop in the moment. I have a feeling that you are building on ideas that you have explored before, but then things come up there and then and it might end up very differently in every performance. Last night’s concert worked so impressively as a long piece, even though those are not actually pieces that you thought out before. 


JB: Right. That kind of being in the moment is is so important, for us both, not to to present an idea of something. You could present a composition, but then you could immediately leave that and go into a more open forum, a more open improvisation. And that happened a lot yesterday. The things that for the audience may have seemed composed were not pre-composed at all. They were composed in the moment. And that is also how we work in the studio. We compose in the moment through our improvisations. So the improvisation, to me at least, is composition. And being in that moment is something that has to do with preciseness to try to be as precise as possible and not to project our inner emotions towards the audience, because the music in itself is can be so powerful that you don’t really need that.


That type of freedom that you experience in improvisation, with the two of you playing together, trying to be in the moment and finding out what to do next, can be great in a concert. But how is it possible to achieve that same quality on a record in a process that involves a lot of people, even in different studios. You invite them individually, you do overdubs, or you travel to New York to record them. That’s more like putting many things together, like an assembly, isn’t it?


EA: The starting point might be very quick, but then we add stuff. That’s the difference. I don’t criticize myself when I’m playing [a concert]. When I’m improvising, I’m in the moment, not asking ‚is this good taste or bad taste?‘ But in the studio we have the possibility to decide, [if something]  ‚is maybe too far in that direction‘. And we add  different improvised layers and then make choices, also the choices of bringing in other people, like, ‚Let’s check out how this would work.‘

JB: In a way that’s a very natural way of working for us. It’s like the blood flow flowing through your body in a natural way. And if you capture something that is of some kind of value, at least to ourselves, the blood runs a little bit faster.

EA: Yeah.




This entry was posted on Mittwoch, 21. Juni 2023 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. You can leave a response here. Pinging is currently not allowed.


  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Wow, wow, wow!

    Of course we will upload this interview in the days before the album‘s release date, Ingo! At the end of September or so. Maybe the extended version…:)

    So nice to start my radio hour with a track from the album on July 20, and something Jan told me about the chosen track.

    I think, the best preparation for the Klanghorizonte is, to listen to Miles‘ IN A SILENT WAY😉 …

    Now the third duo album from Jan and Eivind, and i remember, in regards to the first one, DREAM LOGIC: Henning and I interviewing Jan (was Eivind there, too?) in a tiny Kristiansand hotel room. Circles closing…

    What a great title for the album. Curious about the cover…

  2. Bernd L.:

    Ich habe heute morgen die beiden ersten Scheiben des Duos aus dem Regal geholt, und erinnere ich mich, dass Micha beide Alben in den Klanghorizonten vorstellte. Bin so gespannt auf die nun deutlich rhythmischere Musik, und es ist auch interessant, hier wieder Adam Rudolph zu hören. Hu Vibrational ist immer wieder ein Genuss.

  3. Olaf Westfeld:

    Always great album titles. Dream Logic, Snow Catches… + Last two inches of Sky.
    Leider habe ich die Sonnenwende verpeilt, lange nicht mehr passiert. Das Interview ist nicht nur eine Erinnerung daran, sondern macht sehr viel Lust auf das Album. Remain In Light und Jon Hassell liefen sehr häufig bei mir in den letzten Monaten… can’t wait.

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