O'Leary - Passborg - Riis:
Laid down in Copenhagen, Grønland finds Cork, Ireland-based guitarist Mark O'Leary, drummer-percussionist Stefan Pasborg, and electronic artist Jakob Riis collaborating on an hour-long set inspired by the titular locale's vast tundra. In conceiving the album's material, however, the musicians supplement evocations of the Grønland natural landscape with ruminations relating to the area's culture and history too. Though the brooding atmospherics sculpted by the trio in “Sirius Patrol” could very convincingly stand for the tundra of the Grønland locale, the title in fact refers to the canine-accompanied Danish Navy Unit that patrols and protects the North-East area.
While Pasborg's floor tom pattern draws a literal tie to the indigenous people signified by the “Inuit” track title, the track's other sounds are less directly associative. O'Leary, for example, indulges in some Frisell-like atmospherics, while Riis contributes ripples and other textural details. Though the fifteen-minute centerpiece, “Moving Towards the Light” alludes to the famous light associated with the locale (as do “After Dawn” and “Aurora”), the sound design the trio produces is predominantly dark and menacing, the musicians seemingly intent on conveying the brutal harshness and desolate character of the expanse. Ten minutes of metallic washes, arcing guitar groans, and hyperactive cymbals and drums, “After Dawn” is filled with cavernous rumble and turbulence that make the piece feel like it's on the verge of combusting.
There's a spontaneous feel to the material, as if the three collectively set forth as musical co-conspirators intent on coaxing specific themes into being. The most natural sounds—snare, tom-toms, cymbals—are those produced by Pasborg, while Riis and O'Leary opt for abstract and ethereal washes, textures, drones, and sheets of ice-cold sound in their contributions to the collective fabric. That O'Leary's ‘post-jazz' playing (his own term) is often completely unrecognizable as guitar-generated is accounted for by the fact that he contributes not just guitar but also E-bow, bowed guitar, and electronics. Only in the closing minutes of “Nuuk” (the capital of Grønland) does his playing veer close to conventional guitar in its voicing of a descending theme. He may wield the ‘lead' instrument but the album is credited equally to all three musician for good reason: the material feels like it has been brought into being by three co-creators, not one.