4.3.2. BOL + Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan and Stian Westerhus



The idea of inviting these two very different guitarists into the band was to bring in elements of rock aesthetics (Ryan) and noise-oriented sound making (Westerhus) to our music.

Example IV, 5: Bol with Snah & Westerhus: Excerpt concert at Unterfahrt, Munich, 2011.



Here, I use some processed speech samples and a noisy processed sound in the Roland SP555. Working with only pre-recorded sound samples is experienced as taking the soundmaker role – even if some of the sounds are recognised as spoken text or as being “text-like”. Working solely with the machines and recorded sound, like I do in this sequence, produces quite a different approach, and also expression, compared to producing voice sound in real time. By not being in the singer/speaker/ soundsinger roles, I can take part in this collective and loud improvisation by playing with pure “sound” more than simply making “a personal statement” (almost unavoidable when performing real-time vocal sound in loud surroundings) – and sometimes this is a relief.

I would like to compare this with another loud improvisation:

Example IV, 6: BOL with Snah & Westerhus: Excerpt from “Western Wind”, from the CD Numb, number 2012.



0.00 Soundsinger; from the beginning: “text” as sound, a processed, but still recognisable voice, a hint of meaning. Not in main focus/lead.

1.51 Speaker.

2.28 Moving from singer (clear melodic lead) to soundsinger (loops taking over, repeating, becoming more instrumental); back to speaker, with a short ending. Please note that these roles are not definite, but overlapping.

There are several differences between playing with BOL as a trio and playing with BOL as a quintet with these two exceptional guitar players. I think that this is mainly because of the size of the ensemble. It has often been necessary to find, or to define, the roles that we all have in the interplay, and the project has, in the more composed sequences, been leading the original three of us into slightly more defined roles compared to what we are used to as a trio. I have generally noticed that with the two guitars in addition to the synth and drums, there is often so much musical information and so many ideas in play that it does not feel necessary or natural to add more sound or elements. Therefore, as far as I can see, I adopt the soundmaker role less often here than I do in the trio format. There may be several reasons for this: even if the music has much room for improvisation, we have used more compositions in the quintet setting than in the trio. Singing a lead melody takes a lot of focus, so therefore it seems natural to sometimes exit the interplay in order to make room for other sounds for a while. Also, when recording for the CD format, it is important to make room so that everyone can be heard because the time-span is shorter than during a concert. Further, it feels natural in a studio improvisation to focus on developing one main idea instead of continuing further and more freely with a long time-span in mind, as we often tend to do in a concert situation (like the example from the concert in Munich).

The “live producer role”:

In a studio situation, I become especially aware of another role adopted through my use of live electronics, as described in Section 4.2; the real-time producer role. A studio recording with a vocalist is very often done with a “clean” vocal, and effects and reverbs are chosen in the postproduction. I record my total mix, with the reverbs and effects that are my musical choices in the interplay. I also record a “clean” vocal track at the same time so that I can change my mind and do something else during the mixing process. Very often, I use the mix as it is, as in the recording of the CD Voxpheria with Thomas Strønen, and on most of the tracks on Numb,number with BOL/Snah/Westerhus . What happens sometimes is that my choices in real time becomes a sketch for things that can be adjusted or enhanced in this mixing process. I also register that my use of electronics makes me more aware of the opportunities available in postproduction, both as regards my own sounds and the sound of the other instruments. In the live situation this also leads to a different situation for the sound engineer – the reverbs come from me, not from him (although I make allowances for some improvisations and adjustments by people I trust.)

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