Personnel: Erik Honor‚ (synthesizer, bass synthesizer, sampler).
Audio Mixer: Erik Honor‚.
Recording information: IZ Soundlab, Madrid (2013); Punkt Studio, Kristiansand (2013); Punkt, Kristiansand (2013); The Green Room, Oslo (2013).
Photographer: Thomas Tengesdal Nordby.
When looking at Erik Honor‚'s musical credits, it's remarkable to discover that Heliographs is his debut solo offering. He has shared billing with Jan Bang -- his co-artistic director of the Punkt Festival and longtime musical partner -- on 2012's Uncommon Deities, and has played prominent roles on two of his other albums, including ...And Poppies from Kandahar and Narrative from the Subtropics. Honor‚ -- also a celebrated author -- has also contributed to over 50 recordings by David Sylvian, Eivind Aarset, and Arve Henriksen, to name a few. The latter two return the favor with appearances here. Honor‚'s sound design is implicit in his nocturnal musicality. Percussionist Ingar Zach is his most frequent contributor, but vocalist Sidsel Endresen appears on three tracks; her voice seems to be the album's thematic center in that it grounds a mix that is often gauzy, deliberately submersed in atmosphere. On set opener "Navigators," she uses her singular talent for improvisation, creating sounds that are obviously sourced in the human voice, but feel more like elocutions of an alien language. Honor‚'s synth bass, Bang's shimmering samples, and the watery, almost bubbling synths are woven through sonically manipulated field recordings. The melody is more implied than concrete on this track, but it holds the listener, suspended in its delicate strangeness. On "Sanctuary," subtle glitches, bells, and Honor‚'s synth bassline lay a foundation for samples of plucked cellos and violins to paint the margins surrounding her lithe vocal. "Red Cafe" features violinist Jeffrey Bruinsma, accompanied by a synth bassline, string samples, and traces of flutes and other woodwinds buried just under the surface. On "Pioneer Trail," Bang's expressionistic rhythm programming carries Honor‚'s minimal backmasked keyboards and basses amid distorted sonic washes. On the brief "Strife," the album offers its only sense of drama and dissonance. Henriksen's trumpet squeals with unwound basses and skittering synths (the latter playing an Arabic melody) amid clattering percussion. But it is over so quickly that when "Sanctuary Revisited" commences, it is nearly forgotten. Here string and wind samples caress Endresen's lyric singing, weaving together both chamber and folk music in her melody. Heliographs is, like most of Honor‚'s collaborative work, largely subtle; it comes from the quiet and returns there. But his aesthetic vision contains direction, an implied inner sense and form. These 37 minutes go by all too quickly, leaving the listener desiring more. ~ Thom Jurek