The year when many of us found ourselves in unexpected isolation, and with their Prague concert cancelled in March 2020, David and Arve decided that if they could not express themselves together onstage then they would do so in the recorded medium. Slovak guitarist David Kollar and Norwegian trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist Arve Henriksen began working together in 2018, culminated in their album Illusion of a Separate World. Arve was also involved in Kollar’s 2019 solo album, Sculpting in Time, and after the gig was cancelled, they started composing new pieces together. They wanted to create something that would not only remind the name of the extraordinary time of the pandemic, but, importantly, to capture the atmosphere of time of forced isolation, and in this they have definitely achieved just that.
Kollar provides guitars, bass, and electronics, while Henriksen provides trumpet, vocal, synthesizers, and electronics. The result is something akin to free jazz, but also moving more into the experimental and industrial fields. For some reason when I play this I think of an empty city, in black and grey, dormant with a hidden threat contained within it and no-one on the streets. The 18 tracks are nearly an hour in length, and they make the likes of Art Zoyd feel quite pleasant. This is a hard album to listen to, pushing boundaries as both musicians do things with their instruments which are way outside the norm. The moments when they allow themselves to play beautifully and effectively are like a beacon of shining light, but while that is bright, what it actually does is cast shadows onto the dark place, making them feel even more isolated and distant. This is not an album for anyone who wants something cheery, but the attempt to put the covid pandemic into musical form has certainly been successful with a sense of loss and misery throughout.