Everything and Everything at Once
The sessions to the new Helge Lien Trio album were not supposed to be special. And yet, they
could never be business as usual. After the departure of founding member Frode Berg, the
group were "at a crossroads," says Lien, and in need of a fresh start. They found it by leaving
their comfort zone: For the first time in 15 years, they did not record at the Rainbow studio in
Oslo. The change of location turned out to be productive. In the end, the musicians had two
full records' worth of material – and none of it fit the glove of a conventional trio recording.
The sheer abundance of approaches and concepts makes 10 feel like a factory of ideas, an
expansive world for letting go and losing yourself in, like a clockwork ticking at the pulse of
passion. It presents a panopticum of this unique formation's versatility, including
onomatopoetic piano paintings and hypnotic grooves, experimental abstractions and runic
jazz. Lien is known for being capable of everything – this time, he just did everything all at
It was obviously critical how new bassist Mats Eilert would fit in. All doubts, however, are
quickly dispersed on opener "Be Patient". Appearing behind Lien's crystaline piano cascades,
Eilert turns his instrument into a poetic device, imbuing the music with a sense of magic and
mystery. The other members, too, are awarded their spot in the limelight. In the solo pieces,
their individual voices sound more recognisable than ever, while forging an even tighter unit in
the band settings.. Some have referred to the trio's style as 'new chamber music' – it is not
hard to understand, why.
Lien himself especially has grown as a composer and performer. Some of the most striking
passages are reminiscent of his ambitious solo record Kattenslager from 2012. On other
occasions, he pushes the beat forward with impulsive staccatos, at times separating himself
from the rhythm section, at timese closely aligning himself with it.
There's no easy way of explaining this album. Some of the pieces are autumnal and consoling.
Others feel more forceful and disturbing. But they are all connected. Like twins in a dark room.
Like all the different and sometimes contradicting ideas that haunt Helge Lien whenever he
sits down behind the piano - and which all suddenly make perfect sense.