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Commission for Nattjazz, May 2016
Released on Hubro, November 2020
Received the Edvard prize in 2021

Voice & Strings & Timpani is the latest project of the duo Strings & Timpani, consisting of guitarist Stephan Meidell and drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde. The project came to life as a commission for the Nattjazz festival in 2016 and was released as a record on Hubro in November 2020.

Mari Kvien Brunvoll – vocals, electronics
Eva Pfitzenmaier – vocals, keys, recorder
Stein Urheim – guitar, electronics, langeleik
Stephan Meidell – guitar, electronics, synth
Kim Åge Furuhaug – drums, percussion
Øyvind Hegg-Lunde – drums, percussion, synth

All music written by Stephan Meidell & Øyvind Hegg-Lunde.

Stephan Meidell and Øyvind Hegg-Lunde aka Strings & Timpani are two of the most important figures in the new wave of Norwegian music. They are also staples of the Hubro roster of artists and of the vibrant Bergen experimental music scene. They have worked together for fifteen years and released four albums, first as the duo The Sweetest Thrill, and then as Strings & Timpani.

Voice & Strings & Timpani was recorded partly at a live performance at Bergen’s Nattjazz festival in 2016, and partly at Broen Studio in Bergen – where it was also mixed – in 2020. The album has absolutely total attention to sonic detail and while the music is sufficiently sophisticated to nod knowingly to any number of disparate styles or references, it remains sharply focused and contemporary throughout.

Stephan Meidell says,
“the idea for this project was to write music for us together with friends and colleagues in Bergen, musicians who inspire us and are a part of the same milieu that has some of the same attitudes towards music-making: what I like to call a communal approach to play. The sum of the music that comes out is the essential part; making music together, not impressing through individual virtuosic skills in the traditional sense. We do still strongly believe in the individual voices, but it’s the totality of those voices together that is most important to us. This is at the core of our music-making, and especially for this project. I and Øyvind stand firmly as the founders and composers of the project and the music, but at the same time, we want each individual voice to be heard. It’s tricky but worth the effort in the end.”

The musicians involved in the album’s sextet ensemble also reflect the house identity of the Hubro label, with the prolific solo artist Stein Urheim, Building Instrument’s Mari Kvien Brunvoll, and Super Heavy Metal’s Kim Åge Furuhaug among the multi-instrumentalist team. The role of the two singers/vocalists, Brunvoll, partnered by Eva Pfitzenmaier, is particularly key to the overall sound, and to the notion of ‘Voice’ contained in the new name of Voice & Strings & Timpani. Their rhythmically precise but wordless choruses can recall the work of singers in the minimalist projects of Steve Reich and Meredith Monk, while the addition of nonsense words or dadaistic poetry adds a further layer of defamiliarization to the thickening soup of influences and elements.

Where the music ultimately comes from is beguiling and mysterious, as Voice & Strings & Timpani can sound like various influences and exemplars while remaining entirely itself, so thoroughly are individual musical moments or movements incorporated into the macrocosm of the album as a whole.