Using only pipe organs, the trio of Sandra Boss, Jonas Olesen, and Anders Lauge Meldgaard create a world built on whimsy and air. Using a set of modified (and midified – or MIDIfied rather) pipe organs, Boss, Oleseon, and Meldgaard assemble a reticulated universe where endless possibilities are borne from a simple, deconstructed instrument. By using small, portable organs, the trio unlocks new, countless facets where small worlds of sound can grow.
With a diverse array of sonic components floating through every layer of SOL OP, I am most taken by the animal-like sounds. Birds chirp on rolling beds of dancing tones on “Fuglene.” There’s an aqueous sensibility to the rippling cascade of notes moving in concentric circles around the underlying hollow drones. This is one of the many surprising timbres the trio employs throughout SOL OP. By using every aspect of the organs – from the airblower system itself to various mechanical pieces of the organ and the incorporation of MIDI-control – the potential to push into every plane of sound these organs can offer becomes a reality.
The animalistic sounds continue throughout SOL OP. Rhythmic guttural muttering gives “Maskinerne” a tactile backbone. Higher-pitched shapes glisten like light refracting through water-filled glasses, the quick pace of the repetitions mimicking a hummingbird’s wings. Owls serenade the moon in a midnight chorus on “Skovene,” the different textures all moving in conjunction to give the piece an upward sense of motion. It’s mesmerizing.
Even in the tenuous stretches where stretched tones seem stuck in mid-air, like opener “Sol Op,” the elongated passages are rife with tension and playfulness. When one organ slides upward across the howling arrangements in the distance, the dichotomy is interesting and fun. Though the piece eventually settles into a more contemplative zone, the gamut of sentiments adds to its beguiling nature. “Vindene” operates in a similar fashion, though I can’t help but imagine a world where trains have conversations and in this instance, they’re plainly annoyed, but the trio builds these pieces with these original viewpoints and structures that I want to know everything about every note, every arrangement.
SOL OP is an exhibition of taking an instrument and finding its perceived limits of it and then pushing further. There are so many elements across SOL OP that sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard from a pipe organ. Even more, the way Boss, Olesen, and Meldgaard combine those sounds with the more familiar whirrs and whispers elevates this music to something truly special.