Torun Eriksen vocals
Kjetil Dalland bass /guitar
(David Wallumrød keys)
(Andreas Bye drums)
Torun Eriksen’s “Luxury and Waste”, her sixth solo album at Jazzland Rec, explores familiar territory in an utterly unfamiliar way.
Where her previous album “Grand White Silk” flirted with arrangements of grandeur, she turns now in the opposite direction and gives us new songs in an uncompromising, stripped- back sound, shifting between cool, drifting moods and driving pulsating rhythms. Bassist Kjetil Dalland is her sole companion here, and his subtle yet distinctive style the perfect complement to Torun’s voice, as she invites us into “Luxury and Waste”, her most intimate album yet. You will find Jazz, pop and soul, singer/songwriter and blues, all combined in Eriksen’s unique and surprising blend. – “ I love how music can burst with references, and still have a distinct sound of its own. And I wanted this album to be like that. I have been searching for the core of my songs. We cut everything to the bone, were left with the raw and unpolished and tried to bring this very special light only to be found in the sketches, onto our final versions of the songs.”
While these arrangements feature one instrument and one voice throughout – a classic “stripped back” scenario – there is absolutely nothing stripped away at all. As evidence of this, one has only to look to “Glittercard” (the title track from her 2003 Jazzland debut), here given the same “sparse” treatment, yet it is as lush and full as the original band arrangement. Torun’s cool, understated style, always bristling with emotional resonance, delivers the songs with precision in terms of drama and dynamics, carefully placed ornamentation and inflections. Meanwhile, Torun’s long-time collaborator, Kjetil Dalland, creates a perfect shape for each song to nestle in, and carries it along, whether with gentle undulations or pulsing rhythms. While Dalland’s bass provides the majority of the accompaniment, he also brings in his mini- bass on “Sliding” and “Dreary Place”, adding a whole new sonic spectrum to the sound. Meanwhile, on “Empty Balconies”, Dalland rests while Torun accompanies herself on grand piano.
The intimacy that the simplicity of the arrangements affords is extraordinary. There is no hiding place, no elaborate mask of artifice. Truth and sincerity, the pure rendering of the song and its essence, and a perfect balance between voice and accompaniment: These things make “Luxury and Waste” a uniquely sublime accomplishment in Torun Eriksen’s career, as well as that of Kjetil Dalland. If ever any evidence for their songwriting craft was needed, it is here underlined. If ever there was a demand for evidence of Torun’s voice being an alluring, exquisitely beauteous instrument used with tasteful charm or emotional weight, it is here magnified. If ever any evidence was required that Kjetil Dalland is a musician of skill and refinement with a keen ability to carve out the right groove or mood for a song, it is here amplified.
Indeed, if “Luxury and Waste” has an issue, it is that it makes you wonder why this approach didn’t happen sooner. In a body of work spanning 15 years, “Luxury and Waste” may well be the most outstanding album of them all.
Torun Eriksen has been singing in various Gospel choirs since early childhood days and by that developed her skills as a singer and soloist. In her home town Skien she came in touch with Jazz and song-writing at high school. In 1998 she moved to Oslo where she started studying at the Norwegian Institute of Stage and Studio (NISS). At that time her collaboration with bass player Kjetil Dalland began. Bugge Wesseltoft offered her to publish an album at his label Jazzland Recordings after having discovered one of her songs by a coincidence: “Glittercard”, Torun’s debut album, was released in 2003. Followed by “Prayers and Observations” in 2006 – also produced by Wesseltoft – and by “Passage” in 2010 (Emarcy Records). After having released the cover album “Visits” (Emarcy Records) Torun returned to Jazzland Recordings with “Grand White Silk” (2016) in 2013. Torun’s music has also been arranged for chamber orchestra, Bigbands and choirs. In 2007 a collaboration with Jazzchor Freiburg has started which lead to concerts in Japan, Korea, Germany and France. Two years ago she also started touring with German Jazz guitar player Susan Weinert and as part of WDR Jazzfest in 2016 her duo with Julia Hülsmann was born, Shakespeare sonnets being at the core of their program.
Kjetil Dalland, born in 1974 on Tysnes, has been collaborating with Torun Eriksen for the past two decades, as bassist, co-arranger and co-writer on five of her albums, as well as co-producer on the last two, including 2018 release “Luxury And Waste”. His career as a freelancer runs more than 20 years back and lists some of the major acts on the Norwegian scene, such as Mari Boine, Anneli Drecker, Bertine Zetlitz, Kurt Nilsen, Lene Marlin, Maria Mena, and Nordic Namgar. Since 2016 he has been part of the Norwegian folk rock group Vamp, one of Norway’s most popular bands with 11 albums since 1993 and 5 Norwegian Grammy awards. Currently, he is also working as a music producer and a composer of film music. Kjetil has a master’s degree in Popular Music Performance from the University of Agder, and the University of Tromsø. He lives in Tromsø; under the Aurora Borealis and the Midnight Sun.
Noticeable philosophy without cool intellectualism, perfect phrasings and a sensually vocal and instrumental performance let the songs sparkle like diamonds. Each song is unique, a glimmering gem.
A voice as crystal clear as a Norwegian mountain stream: Torun Eriksen doesn’t need a vibrato or other gimmicks to impress. Also on her fifth album – produced by herself with her long-time companion Kjetil Dalland, the 39 years old singer doesn’t change much of her recipe for success. Working with mainly moderate tempi the Norwegian singer doesn’t only sing Jazz ballads. Her mulitlayered vocals in “Downhill” are reminding of contemporary R&B sounds, still combined with progressive keyboard and guitar sounds of her trio. “Right here” is in a similar way experimental with reminiscences of Björk. Beautifully optimistic “I’ve been thinking” – showing Eriksen’s roots in Gospel music. Minimalist “Winter Today” and “Darkness” are outstanding, only accompanied by Dalland’s artistic guitar play. Scandinavian melancholy, reduced to its pure essence.
(…) her pieces are often starting, in the unique way of Torun Eriksen, almost unspectacularly, quiet. But little by little she is developing a complex soundscape, filled with very different, but convenient sounds – from experimental to classic. Eriksen’s outstanding gentle voice is strolling through this universal abundance, by that holding all the eclectic sentiments with her haunting texts together. (…) this quintet knows (…) how to stay balanced in a wonderful ballad, never too excessive, never too melancholic. They are handling this difficulty well and so making Torun Eriksen’s new album an intense, lucid and charming listening experience.
Her Jazzpop appears very reduced, almost crisp, complemented with an impressing voice, which is anything but sweet swinging, still showing warmth. (…) on “Grand White Silk” the 39 years old singer surprises with a new direction of Jazz, combining electronic sounds, synthesizer and Rhodes piano with classic instruments. (…) her voice navigating sovereignly through electronic soundscapes, once in a while finding confidence in Jazz or picking up pace with Soul or even Gospel.
Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung Online 09/2016