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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 93 - 05/04/04

Racing Junior

I don't really know what it is with the music of Salvatore. It's mainly instrumental, not very hummable and one suspect after all there must be a few dozens other innovative soundsmiths out there. The music of Salvatore is beat-based and it grooves, but when you're about to fall into a trance or a dance, it suddenly moves into something very different. It feels loose and improvised with lots of echo effects, still for the most part it has to be planned to work as well as it does. The band received a Norwegian Grammy (sort of) for their previous album Tempo for best electronica album of 2002. Still the music includes lots of real drums, guitars and even acoustic instruments. Salvatore's music has also been labelled postrock, stonerrock, dronerock, krautrock, spacerock, progressive rock or simply rock, and described as experimental, monotonous, psychedelic, noisy with ethnic and dub elements, even a bit jazzy. One might nod approvingly to all of this, at times.

Luxus is Salvatore's fifth album. Here are elements of traditional music from throughout the globe, and vocals, even a track with discernible words! Some critics have hailed "Brugata" as an ethnic inspired track. And yes, this street in Oslo is a kind of gate to the exotic part of town with immigrants shops etc. There's also Teddy's Soft Bar, a 50s cafe and hangout for musicians, other artists and bohemian wannabes. Behind a backyard round the corner of the bar there used to be a little collective of musicians and technicians with a sound studio, rehearsal rooms and a great little festival every summer until the landlord kicked them out a few years ago. I think "Brugata" with nice guitars, gloomy bassdrones and Pacific xylophones intertwined rather nod in the latter direction. Other tracks, especially "Roots & Weather", parts of the opener "Hefe" and the title track sounds more exotic to me. Salvatore once recorded in Morocco and apparently brought home an oud that dominates parts of "Roots & Weather". With a muezzin-alike voice calling from the minaret and sampled Arabic sounding flutes on top of hard-working drums and an echoed guitar (a bit like Pink Floyd of The Wall era), this number brings you directly to the centre of the ongoing conflicts of the Middle East.

"In Gekko" and "Fluxus" are the juicy bits for those who prefer the noisier and more improvised sides of Salvatore. My favourite is certainly the title track that starts very careful with guitars and xylophone behind elfish vocals straight out of the haze of Lothlórien. The piece gains strength through a fake Turkey balaban(?) and even more so by quick-tempered drums and guitars. Then back to old cultural central Europe with the Slovenian string quartet Vašem Zdravlju Orchestra, on to doomladen mythical Indian terrain in North America with reverberations of the forthcoming apocalypse. Finally the weather brightens and we land safely in a merry Caribbean harbour.

I guess the music of Salvatore has that certain something indiscernible extra. And I really enjoy it. Luxus was recorded in Oslo but once again they've collaborated with John McEntire of Tortoise fame who mixed the album in Chicago. There's more info on Salvatore and other interesting Norwegian labelmates at Racing Junior's site where you can order the company's offerings and probably listen to samples soon, too.

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You may also want to check out our Salvatore articles/reviews: Clingfilm, Tempo.

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