Erik Honoré: Heliographs
It does at times seem as if the distance separating Hubro and Rune Grammofon is small, a prime example being Erik Honoré's Heliographs. The concise, thirty-seven-minute release not only includes appearances by singer Sidsel Endresen (who recently collaborated with guitarist Stian Westerhus on the Rune Grammofon release Bonita) and Supersilent member Arve Henriksen, but also transcends genre pigeonholing much like a typical Rune Grammofon set.
Though Honoré's been involved in the production of more than fifty records (by artists such as David Sylvian, Eivind Aarset, and Henriksen), Heliographs is, surprisingly, his debut album. Credited with samples, synthesizer, synth bass, rhythm programming, and field recordings, the Norwegian artist is clearly comfortable sharing the spotlight with others, and the album's all the richer for it. Though most of the album was recorded in his Oslo home studio, much of the source material is drawn from samples originating from concerts and live remixes, even if it's been dramatically embellished by the contributions of Honoré's guests.
Honoré's Punkt Festival collaborator Jan Bang contributes samples to the ambient-electronica moodpiece “Navigators,” but it's Endresen bird-like cooing that catches one's ear most of all, despite the wealth of evocative synth-laced textures that lend the material such atmosphere. Endresen's gentle delivery likewise elevates the delicate ballad “Sanctuary,” as do the tinkling percussion treatments Huntsville's Ingar Zach adds to the song's arrangement, and while there's nothing on Heliographs that could be labeled dance music, “Pioneer Trail” does exemplify a conspicuously strong thrust thanks to Bang's rhythm programming. That Dutch violinist Jeffrey Bruinsma is granted the solo spotlight on “Red Cafe” proves to be a smart move on Honoré's part, given that the subdued setting is one of the album's standout tracks.
In keeping with Honoré's seemingly self-effacing nature, Heliographs' moodscapes are generally restrained in character (e.g., “Last Chance Gas & Water,” which creeps allusively for nine minutes), yet the listener finds him/herself nevertheless drawn into the recording's world because of its rich textural design and eclectic compositional approach. And as Honoré himself is no doubt aware, the album benefits considerably from the contributions his guests brought to the project.