Spurv

support Solar
author AP date 30/01/20 venue Ideal Bar, Copenhagen, DEN

January was a quiet month in terms of concerts for this scribe, yet somehow I have botched the deadline for two of my reviews already. I hope you will excuse me and join me as I return to last week, which took me to the smallest of VEGA’s four concert venues to watch an exciting prospect from our Scandinavian neighbours in the north: Spurv, whose latest album “Myra” landed on two of our writers’ best of lists in 2018. It seems like only a few people in Copenhagen share our enthusiasm about this band, however, as there are only 25 or so people populating the parquet floor of this intimate venue tonight.

All photos courtesy of Jakob Muxoll


Solar

A busy day means Solar have already launched into their first song by the time I arrive at the venue, and while the extreme volume is making it easy to hear the duo, seeing them is more of a challenge. With the exception of the myriad little lights on Magnus Borgkvist Johansson’s array of synthesisers, the two musicians are playing in pitch darkness, which bestows upon their show a kind of dungeon club feel that fits the style of their music quite well. I must admit to being out of my depth in this regard: Solar is a dark synthwave outfit with a distinctly ‘80s sound — think glistening sheets of electronic melody and deep, pulsating rhythms laid down by the neck-tattooed drummer Jonas Stojiljkovic Pedersen, pierced here and there by distorted screams from Johansson. I have little interest in this genre myself, but from an objective standpoint, I can understand the appeal of the dreamy, and sometimes psychedelic tracks they air for us tonight. But even so, having to strain one’s eyes just to catch a glimpse of Pedersen’s vigorous, edge-of-the-seat antics behind his drum kit renders the overall experience somewhat difficult to immerse oneself in, which is exacerbated by the fact that, inevitably, Johansson spends most of the set hunching over his setup as opposed to exerting himself physically or interacting with this small-ish audience. The doomed union of a genre that does not really speak to me and a disenchanting show thus means that Solar fail to make much of an impression on me tonight.

4


Spurv

The lighting situation is marginally better when Spurv’s set begins with “Fra dypet under stenen” off the aforementioned “Myra”. The group is one guitarist short due to illness, and while his absence means that the famous interplay between Simen Eifring’s trombone and the usual trifecta of guitars is missing a key component, the Oslo-born outfit nonetheless manages to sound as all-encompassing and dramatic as they do on record. The effect of Eifring’s instrument on the Norwegian post-rockers’ music cannot be overstated; there are many other bands of their ilk who have a penchant for creating cinematic soundscapes, but none of them are quite so theatrical nor electrifying as Spurv, whose every song seems to be the soundtrack to some epic sci-fi flick or nature documentary. If you don’t believe me, just listen to the crescendo in tonight’s second track “Mellom broen og elven” (taken from 2015’s “Skarntyde”), in which soaring wails of guitar are counterbalanced beautifully and strikingly by honks of brass. None of this could function were it not for the excellent sound mix, which is not only louder than life, but also allows Hans-Jakob Jeremiassen’s bass guitar to punch through with force whilst still retaining clarity in the other instrumental channels.

Spurv’s performance on stage is a chapter on its own. The band reminds of Caspian not only because of musical similarities between the two, but also because the five musicians here make a mockery of the idea that post-rock bands should restrict themselves to shoegazing stances. In spite of the limited space afforded to them by Ideal Bar’s stage, the quintet bristles with energy as they let songs like the mesmerising “Et blekt lys lyder” drive their movement, weaponising their instruments into spears and axes to be swung with a warrior’s might. Their rocking out and spinning around on stage only heightens the cathartic and life-affirming nature of these songs, and in a rare occasion as far as this genre goes, I am never once compelled to shut my eyes and let my imagination run as the music kneads its magic. It beggars belief that more people haven’t turned up to experience these fascinating soundscapes brought to life, but since it seems to have no effect on Spurv’s willingness to put on a show, I won’t cry for others missing out on the majesty of a track like the closing piece “Allting får sin ende, også natten” unfolding its full potential in concert. It has been a fine concert marred only by the lack of good lighting and visuals to really amplify the sensory experience Spurv’s music can deliver, and no one looks to be disappointed.

8

Setlist:

  • 01. Fra dypet under stenen
  • 02. Mellom broen og elven
  • 03. Et blekt lys lyder
  • 04. Gamle årringer
  • 05. Passacaglia (fuller med ord i nebbet)
  • 06. Og ny skog bæres frem
  • 07. Med enormt håb
  • 08. Allting får sin ende, også natten

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