The Island Band – Like Swimming

Release in Norway: 16.10.2015

CD/LP-180giTunes TidalSpotify
The Island Band is an orchestra led by musician, composer and producer Lars Myrvoll. With the album “Like Swimming” he has constructed a highly unusual and emotionally charged stream of music together with a stunning bouquet of versatile Norwegian musicians from bands such as Ultralyd, Splashgirl, MoHa, Kråkesølv, Sheriffs of Nothingness, Møster and Datarock. In other words, a long list of the Norwegian music community’s innovative “usual suspects”.
The album has a floating, dreamlike atmosphere, and moves between evocative, detailed instrumentals and imposingly produced pop tunes featuring vocals. Some of the combinations of instruments look totally absurd on paper, but sound entirely natural when they emanate from the loudspeakers. A radio edit of the song “Swimming”, with a guest vocal by Maria Due, was released as a single this past summer, and serves as a good example. How often do you hear catchy, lushly orchestrated pop duets with Auto-Tune vocals, a sax solo and a theorbo?
Lars Myrvoll’s LP debut “The Island”, released on the long-discontinued label Safe as Milk in 2009, garnered glowing reviews, but has been unavailable for a while. The album was the result of a six-year process, and the result was described as both deeply moving and original.
The format of Myrvoll’s new album is substantially larger than that of his debut. This time, too, the process has been a protracted one. The basic tracks were laid down in August 2013, and Myrvoll has invested considerable resources and countless studio hours to achieve the result that he is presenting now.
While the now unavailable debut album was recorded in his bedroom, and given a patina and a barely transparent sonic veil by running the sound through several generations of inexpensive recording equipment and tape, the new album could be described as a monumental, well-produced and high-fidelity creation. Music that is atmospheric but doesn’t offer much to chew on is sometimes called cinematic. The music on this album, on the other hand, scores high on all counts.
The Island Band cannot be pigeonholed into a particular category or musical genre. The project is an island unto itself. The combination of experimental verve, production talent and emotional impact found here is unusual. Myrvoll has a uniquely multi-faceted talent, and manages to capture the ear of the listener with both brooding exploration of sound and pop tunes.
Available as CD/DL and LP.
Artist webpage





  1. n 2008, Lars Myrvoll sortait un album solo intitulé The Island. Huit ans plus tard, il a réuni plusieurs musiciens autour de lui pour un nouveau long-format, présenté non plus sous son seul nom, mais sous celui d’une formation logiquement dénommée The Island Band. Ayant recruté ses compères au sein de formations très disparates, évoluant aussi bien dans un registre jazz traditionnel que dans des terres plus rock ou plus expérimentales, Myrvoll concocte un disque charriant toutes ces influences, exploitées au long de ses douze morceaux.

    Quelques titres opèrent ainsi dans des climats ambient (avec longues notes tenues, sur les deux premières pistes du disque) ou parviennent à intégrer des samples de marée en flux et reflux (le bien nommé Waves), pendant que d’autres choisissent une approche néo-classique (The Shore / Waves In The Morning et son dialogue entre piano et cordes, Dreaming et ses liés profonds de cordes) ou free-jazz (les notes débridées du saxophone de In All We Are Connected). Petite surprise également avec les deux volets de Swimming, sorte de ballade chantée par Myrvoll et Maria Due, tandis que le théorbe (sorte de grand luth) de Solmund Nystabakk égrène ses accords et qu’un saxophone s’égare dans un solo un peu grandiloquent.

    Cette variété, comme toujours, peut alors être lue de deux manières : soit on loue la capacité du groupe à intervenir dans plusieurs styles, à se renouveler et à se remettre en question ; soit on considère que, fort de la présence de tous ses membres, il est incapable de trancher et de se positionner clairement dans un registre ou un autre. Au final, on sera même désarmé au moment de classer cet album de The Island Band dans un genre musical donné, sans bien savoir si ce constat est à mettre au crédit ou non du disque.
    –, François Bousquet 5/8 (FR)