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BENDIK GISKE

Bendik Giske

Cracks

    Bendik Giske (NO/DE) is an artist and saxophonist whose expressive use of physicality, vulnerability and endurance have already won him much critical acclaim. You can hear all of this in his debut album Surrender, released at the start of 2019 on Smalltown Supersound, which can be described as Giske stripped to the core: no overdubs, looping, or effects. Just his body, breath, the saxophone and a resonant physical space, plus lots of microphones.

    The body is important for Giske, even more so than as an acoustic musician. Not just in the strength and muscle control required to accomplish circular breathing on the saxophone, the unusual technique he employs to mesmerizing effect. It’s also reflected in the tradition of dance he practiced as a child in Bali – where he split his time between Oslo with his artist parents – and enjoyed as part of an electronic music epiphany in his adopted hometown of Berlin. And body is implied in his sense of queerness, which has helped him create his own sound, blossoming luxuriantly not only on record but also in his striking, embodied performances.

    As such, in the past Giske has likened his performance to transmuting electronic music through all of his human faults, akin to becoming a machine. And with second album Cracks he introduces a new set of parameters for the automated processes of his muscle memory to work against. His decision to collaborate with producer André Bratten and his extensive studio of electronic machines saw Giske play in the new ‘resonant’ space of Bratten’s reactive studio tuned to his original sounds.

    In a sense, you could call it generative music – a term coined by Brian Eno to describe music made within a set of rules that can constantly evolve within that system. But here the only algorithms at work are responding to Giske’s self-imposed constraints (or parameters) – like the afore-mentioned circular breathing. As a practice, it induces in the player – and perhaps the listener, too – a kind of altered state, more open to discovery, and as a cycle of sound it defies time. This atemporality, or out-of-timeliness, hints at theorist José Muñoz’s notion of “queer time”, which is a chronology wholly other than the default.

    If this new studio-as-an-instrument process has brought Giske one step closer to the manmachine, it’s also a way to bridge the separation – or crack – between the two. This kind of liminal space, according to Giske, is to be treasured: “The tracks wedge themselves into the cracks of our perceived reality to explore them for their beauty. A celebration of corporeal states and divergent behaviors,” he explains. He cheerfully admits to mining the thought universe of Muñoz – especially his book Cruising Utopia– as inspiration, and the resulting Cracks have a sensual, deeply-felt and lingering beauty with a touch of the superhuman.

    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. Flutter
    2. Cruising

    Side B
    3. Void
    4. Cracks
    5. Matter (part 3)

    Laurel Halo delivers two wonderful remixes of Bendik Giske’s "Cruising", the centre piece of his brand new album Cracks. The two remixes perfectly interprets - and reshapes - the scope of Giske’s mesmerising and hypnotic original piece.

    The A-side mix sublimates Giske's expressive saxophone beneath electronic rain patterns and misty ambience, while a sparse but grooving rhythm takes care of the body work. On the flip, a beatless variation showcases the delicate way the producer has handled the original, squeezing maximum feeling out of each note.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Crusuing (Laurel Halo Remix)
    2. Crusuing (Laurel Halo Less Remix)

    The performance artist and saxophonist’s mesmerizing debut takes listeners on a true journey through the euphoria and wanderlust of nights spent clubbing - using little more than his voice, saxophone, his instrument of choice, and more than a few well-placed microphones.

    Giske finds a natural home in Smalltown Supersound as he cites Lindstrom’s arpeggio sounds and Evan Parker’s circular breathing as references, both of whom have released on the label. By combining the two extreme sides of the scale, he seamlessly fuses freeform jazz and club music. 'I take the building blocks of electronic music and play it live - without layering or looping, to the best of my ability. All the faults of being human come through. It’s an exercise in something impossible: to be a machine.'

    Surrender as a verb is a key concept to Giske’s debut and the word itself takes on multiple meanings to him. 'I consider myself a queer performance artist - the queer perspective is always there,' he states.'In gay culture, we have the terms ‘top’ and ‘bottom,’ with ‘bottom’ referencing an act of surrender and trust. Creating these repeating structures, relying on muscle memory for these sequences, and seeing what happens - it’s also an exercise in the act of surrender.'

    With breath, steel and muscle Giske is transmuting his clubbing experience through the saxophone.


    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Adjust
    A2. Adjust (Total Freedom Remix)
    A3. Adjust (Lotic Remix)
    B1. Adjust (Deathprod Remix)
    B2. Adjust (Rezzett Remix)


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