CD review

Sigurd Hole – “Lys/Mørke”

Sigurd Hole – Lys/Mørke
(Elvesang Records. Album Review* by Dick Hovenga)

This double album by Norwegian double bass player Sigurd Hole takes the listener on a particularly appealing voyage of musical discovery. His most recent album Encounters was with his trio, so Lys/Mørke is more like a follow-up to his impressive solo double bass album Elvesang from two years ago. He is a musician who constantly challenges himself and the audience, and both solo albums are quite beautiful.

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Sigurd Hole is mainly known for being a member of  his fellow Norwegian, pianist Tord Gustavsen’s trio. He is also a regular collaborator with saxophonist Karl Seglem and a member of Andreas Ulvo’s Eple Trio.

Lys/Mørke (which means light/dark) comes as a box with the two albums side by side, yet  each has its own distinctive colour and atmosphere – something the title also alludes to. Both albums, just like their predecessor, feature just Hole and his double bass. And it may seem odd or even otiose to mention it, but the sounds that Hole can draw from his double bass are so special, even a double album makes you still want more.

Hole recorded the compositions for the two albums in The Arctic Hideaway, a remote but beautifully situated studio on the islands of Fleinvær in the far north of Norway. He made optimal use of the natural sounds of the islands and incorporated them into his compositions. There is also a clear point being made here about the state of nature on our planet, and the gravely disruptive force with which mankind is ravaging and destroying it.

Both albums contain extremely intriguing music. There is not just fascination for the way Hole plays his double bass, and the other-worldly sounds he is adept at conjuring from it, but also the real beauty of the atmospheres and moods he creates as he does so. And that is something which can be traced back to the sounds from nature that he incorporates into his compositions, sounds which he sometimes allows to dominate.

Hole is so immersed in his playing and improvisations, and in the sounds he hears around him, he has achieved an almost perfect symbiosis between music and nature. Sometimes he just follows the sounds of nature, stops to emphasise them and then picks them up again. And that makes listening to Lys/Mørke all the more fascinating.

Photo credit: I.J. Biermann

Hole premiered his new album last February at Carnegie Hall in New York – impressive to say the least. And it feels right that he did so in such an ambitious setting. With Lys/Mørke, Hole has an album on which music and nature intertwine in a completely new musical way. He draws us into a very exciting new musical world. A world that is better and more beautiful than the one we inhabit.

The CD version of Lys/Mørke comes presented in a box. Alongside the two albums, separately wrapped in very attractive artwork, there is a booklet with evocative pictures of the (desolate) landscape of Fleinvær and liner notes by the musical thinker and philosopher David Rothenberg, known for his writing about musicality in other species than humans.

The album is available via this Bandcamp LINK

(*) This is Sebastian’s English version of Dick Hovenga’s  review which was originally published in Dutch at

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