Who: Stein Urheim, guitarist and freelance-musician who grew up playing in the blues and jazz circuit in Bergen, Norway in my teens and led a rock band in my early twenties. After about ten years as a freelance musician, I studied for three years at the Grieg Academy while playing gigs on the side. At that time I grew more and more interested in improvised, experimental, and contemporary music and folk music from all around the world. I also started travelling a lot, to the US, South-America, Europe, and I almost moved to Canada where I spent a lot of time. Later I took trips to India and China and stayed for periods in Berlin. I still have Bergen as a base but will be living in Berlin again this fall.
What: It’s very eclectic, with all kinds of styles mixed and played the way I hear them. I use different acoustic string instruments more common to folk music and blend them with electric guitars, effects and electronics. On the two last solo albums on Hubro, the tunes have been set up in a sort of suite-like form, a little bit like Don Cherry’s mid-‘60s albums. I don’t know where that came from; I just started playing them that way.
Currently: Except for my own new album and concerts, we’re just starting work on new material for a duo project with singer Mari Kvien Brunvoll. We’ve already released two albums on Jazzland Recordings, so this one will be the third. I will also be a part of a new work by Orlando Gough, commissioned for the Bergen International Festival in May and featuring the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, violinist Nils Økland, and singers from five different countries, among others. I’ve also lately been working on this free-improv workshop-project for kids, a kind of “harmolodic kids”-styled tribute to Ornette Coleman where we mix Ornette’s music with children’s songs and improvisation, and the kids participate with instruments, singing, and dancing.
Musical philosophy: I like to stay open-minded (both musically and elsewhere), to let there be room for different approaches, learn new ways of making and listening to music, and just get better at playing my instruments.
Influential figures, works, and events: I discovered Ornette Coleman and his amazing world of music (and the musicians he worked with) in my mid-twenties. I also got to see him live a couple of times (close to 80), which was great. In recent years I’ve discovered a number of composers I like a lot, among them Lou Harrison, Harry Partch, Eivind Groven, Bjørn Fongaard, and Terry Riley, that explore microtonality and non-tempered ways of making music; I find their music inspiring and wonderful. I grew up with my parents’ record collection as a kid, which had The Stones, The Beatles, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Dylan, Ry Cooder, and Greek folk music, among other great stuff which still influences me. Also my early blues discoveries, figures like John Lee Hooker, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James and so on, are still important, and Norwegian folk music and the Chinese qin-tradition have many treasures I like a lot.
«Νορβηγός κιθαρίστας με έδρα το Bergen, ο Stein Urheim χειρίζεται στο φερώνυμο αυτό LP/CD του όλα τα όργανα (και δεν εννοώ μόνο τις κιθάρες, αλλά και φλάουτο, φυσαρμόνικα, άταστο μπουζούκι, μαντολίνο, charango,banjo, αναλογικά σύνθια, εφφέ κ.λπ.). Παρά ταύτα παίρνει και μια μικρή βοήθεια από τον Jørgen Træen σε επιπλέον σύνθια και εφφέ. Οι επιρροές του Urheim είναι πολλές και ποικίλες, και αυτό δίνει ιδιαίτερο χρώμα στο άλμπουμ του. Βασικά, θα έλεγα πως το blues αποτελεί την πιο τρανή αναφορά, στην παλαιάcountry blues εκδοχή του, ενώ και τα δυτικο-αφρικανικά hints είναι και σαφή και εμφανή. Διαθέτει, δηλαδή, κάτι το αρχέτυπο το “Stein Urheim”, αλλά ταυτοχρόνως και κάτι το «προχωρημένο», με τους αυτοσχεδιασμούς του νορβηγού μουσικού να δίνουν και να παίρνουν.»
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