Magnus Granberg COMPOSER AND PERFORMER contact:larsmagnusgranberg[at]gmail.com
Photo: Seth Starre Lacotte
Tread upon this hidden path,
enter woods so wild.
Do not fear some tough guys’ wrath,
this band’s so good and mild!
Gently they will take your hand and
guide you to get lost;
find yourself in wonderland,
this world, just slightly tossed!
Skogen is an ensemble working at an intersection between contemporary chamber music and improvisation where impressions and experiences, methods and materials from seemingly different musical practices discreetly transforms into something new and different.
The specific dynamic which arises where composition and improvisation intersect and individual and collective processes are negotiated, produces a coherent music in which the multiplicity of methods and source materials are gently transcended.
Skogen mainly performs music by it’s founder Magnus Granberg, but has also performed and recorded the music of Swedish composer, musician and sound artist Anders Dahl.
The ensemble consists of a core of Swedish musicians active within different strands of contemporary music,
regularly expanding into a large, international ensemble when collaborating with musicians such as Angharad Davies, Toshimaru Nakamura, Simon Allen, Rhodri Davies and Ko Ishikawa.
Anna Lindal: violin
Angharad Davies: violin
Leo Svensson Sander: cello
Magnus Granberg: piano
John Eriksson or Simon Allen: vibraphone and percussion
Rhodri Davies: harp
Erik Carlsson: percussion
Henrik Olsson: percussion
Petter Wästberg: objects, contact microphones, mixing board
Toshimaru Nakamura: no-input mixing board
Ko Ishikawa: sho
Selected press quotes:
“Skogen is led by Magnus Granberg, who provides compositional frameworks for his 10 musicians while preferring to sink his own identity within that of his group. With Skogen, Granberg´s original idea was, he says, to create a space where there’s room for many different ways of working and existing as a musician and a human being, and on the other hand to try to integrate these ways of working. And integration is key.…Granberg´s achievement is immense. Drawing on this 17th-century source, au courant art cuts across allegiances of style while the spectre of John Dowland is never too far from the surface”.
Philip Clark, The Gramophone
“On their third release for Another Timbre, Skogen – The Forest or Woods in Swedish – present an extended composition by founder Magnus Granberg. Like their first release Ist Gefallen in den Schnee, which drew on material from Schubert’s Winterreise, it has a classical basis – a song by 17th century English composer John Dowland. Audibly, the connections are distant, except in the mood of darkness and melancholy, not to say despair and depression, they share with their models. That distance partly results from the openness of the compositional process – players are apparently handed ‘pools’ of material, with suggestions of how to treat it.
The one continuous track of 57 minutes shows a restraint within timbral richness that’s reminiscent of another remarkable ensemble, Dans Les Arbres – though their forces and improvisational method are very different. Skogen’s soundworld is spare and minimal, yet its measured progress creates a feeling of slowly evolving rhythm – a numinous intensity heightened by often violent outbursts of percussion and white noise. Instead of the familiar arch-shape, the form ebbs and flows, with a rising intensity and activity in the later part of the piece.
There’s a distinctive mix of Western, East Asian and electronic resources. A kind of baseline electronic field is set up by Toshimaru Nakamura on no-input mixing board and Petter Wästberg on contact microphones and objects. This seems to draw in the acoustic sounds of ubiquitous Ko Ishikawa on sho, and Henrik Olsson on bows and glasses, and in a way familiar from modern composers such as Nono and Xenakis, makes them sound somehow electronic too.
Granberg’s stated aim is to create a music and performance practice which draws no clear distinction between composition and improvisation. In this, as he says, he’s following developments since the 1990’s. But in contrast with the spontaneity and excitement of improvisation, there’s a sense of inevitability and organic unity that belongs to the most compelling composition. It creates a singular atmosphere of drama and mystery, with an ethos that’s totally involving.”
Andy Hamilton, The Wire
”… Across its duration, Ist gefallen in den Schnee creates its own rules and logic, resulting in a composition that demands to be heard again and again. Sublime.”
John Eyles, All About Jazz