Passive/Aggressive

Peter Jørgensen – Waking us up from reality, weaving us into a dream

English Kritik June 21 2019

Peter Jørgensen ”Alt i stykker” (No Technique, 2019) – review by Giuseppe Pisano

Along the years Peter Jørgensen has developed a compositional style that shares common elements with both the new wave of Scandinavian electronic ambient music and the modern-classical long form experimentations of either minimal-music composers such as Morton Feldman and more recent figures in the contemporary music panorama such as Anthony Pateras.

In this sense his new album “Alt i stykker” continues the statement made with the previous release, “Gold Beach”, and delivers us two formally beautiful long pieces of what I would define as instrumental drone music.

”For Countertenor & Ensemble”, as stated in the title, is a composition that features a quite unusual vocal timbre and a sophisticated melange of instruments that together contribute to the shaping of an unreal realm of dystopic beauty. Everything is carefully studied to the smallest detail: the interventions of ritual Buddhist percussions (played by Mike Weis) articulate the moments of the meditations, the everlasting sounds of pedals, at times physically present or of a synthetic ethereal nature, guide us through, and the eruptions of the androgynous voice play with the concept of gender and identity in a way that resembles pieces such as ”Fedra” or ”Rara” by Sylvano Bussotti.

The piece starts with an incredibly powerful blast of sound, that wakes us up from reality, into a dream, the other way around, so that what we consider reality feels shattered into pieces. After the shock we smoothly get acquainted with this new sonic realm that, despite its strangeness, normalizes around us into a new setting. With this gesture Peter Jørgensen sets the frame for the whole album and begins his interaction of timbres.

The intrinsic nature of the sounds he uses already suggests the structure of the pieces as they develop: long and intangible resonances flutter around, highlighting different harmonics and timbral qualities in the spectrum. Sound tones are sent through a prism, refracted, and shown in their hidden components that we get to observe and experience, as they are assigned to different instruments and roles, dwelling in a mellow dance. Tiny high waves glimmer in the dark and shine of suspended tension.

In ”Corale + Outro” we have the same setting and development, just with an even more rarefied interaction and the evocative beauty of the sound of the trumpet, gently touching our ears from a melancholic distance. Here the harmonic progression tends to easier, almost pop, resolutions, bringing us to the ground every time we feel like we are floating too far into the void.

While Jørgensen’s music is well arranged in terms of timbre and spectrum, the physical distance of the different sounds plays a minor role in the shaping of this soundscape. This makes the album appear a bit two-dimensional at times and lessens the sense of a personal identity.
Nevertheless, the whole record flows fluidly due to its formal balance and structural attention, making it a very enjoyable listen. Jørgensen’s two-piece suite constitutes a complex ecosystem in which rarefied actions and reactions soothe the ears and the mind, affording a beautiful escape from reality.

Info: ”Alt i stykker” was released in the middle of June by the new Copenhagen label No Technique.

Editor’s note: Peter Jørgensen is a contributor to Passive/Aggressive. Thus we commissioned a new writer to review the album. The reviewer, Giuseppe Pisano, is an electroacoustic composer and sound artist based in Oslo.