To paraphrase David Byrne, upon diving into Norwegian composer Øyvind Torvund’s remarkably broadminded The Exotica Album you may well ask yourself: how did I get here?
‘Here’ is a place where early electronic experimentation collides with Hollywood’s heavily romanticised vision of the South Pacific. The album was composed by Torvund at the behest of the Bit20 ensemble, conducted by Trond Madsen, and features wildly inventive synth contributions from Jørgen Træen alongside Kjetil Møster’s expressive sax.
‘Here’ is a place where you can hear the musique concréte of ‘Ritual 2’ sipping mai tais next to to the beautiful, retro-luscious swoon of ‘Starry Night’ with R2-D2 tending the Tiki bar; where the rapid flip-flop between noise and melodic intricacy of ‘Waking Up Again’ makes for an especially vivid tone poem; where the water-like synth sprinkles, pizzicato strings and xylophone of the enthralling ‘Rainforest Morning’ pitches your hammock at the centre of a tranquil sonic oasis.
By the time you reach the end of the springy ersatz synth bird calls, bongos and strings of ‘Out Of The Jungle’, you’re ejected back into a normality that comes as massive disappointment after spending the best part of an hour inside Torvund’s vivid vision of exoticism.
The Exotica Album by Øyvind Torvund is out now on Hubro.
Words: Mat Smith