Yngel

Yngel is the creative partnership of Danish guitarists / composers Taus Bregnhøj-Olesen and Emil Palme. Both are well known names in the Danish experimental music scene and having worked in a variety of different constellations and on projects. Taus builds his own obscured string instruments and effects pedals using them in his own artistic work, and has performed live with the innovative American bassist, Thomas Morgan. In 2023, Emil released his solo LP “Ripen” on the ambient / drone label First Terrace Records. He has performed with the late cosmic pioneer Manuel Göttsching, and is also a part of the Scottish singer/songwriter Clarissa Connelly’s touring band.

To date the pair have produced 5 albums, some self-released, some in conjunction with local labels such as Insula, One Take Records, and Resonans Recordings. The latter record was a collaboration with Indonesian Tarawangsa player, Teguh Permana, who they met while touring South East Asia. This trip also resulted in Taus and Emil working with Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi of Senyawa. Yngel’s 2015 debut was described in the press as “post-everything”, and the friends think that this still applies to their music now. 

The two met while studying in Copenhagen, and were brought together by a shared desire to break free of the traditional vocabulary of the guitar. This led them to develop unique techniques, such as playing their instruments with rocks and stones. The use of such elemental objects in their process introduces an unpredictability, and also reflects the inspiration they draw from nature. 

‘Silva’, Yngel’s new album, their debut release for FatCat Records’ 130701 imprint, features a string quartet, cast with members of label mates, Halvcirkel. The compositions were written in a series of “non-studio” surroundings around Denmark, including gardens, country houses, and an abandoned water tower. The collective then captured the set in Copenhagen’s Brorsons Church.

The title, ‘Silva’, is Latin for ‘forest’ or ‘woodland’ and is not only a nod to Mother Nature, but also how Yngel see their creations existing as individual organisms that harmonise as a bigger whole. Such synergy is also true of the playing, as the 6 musicians sensitively and skilfully improvise around one another to the point where the voices of individual instruments are often hard to discern.

Yngel’s new album is  a collaboration with a string quartet, which features members of label mates, Halvcirkel. The collective captured the set in a series of “non-studio” surroundings around Denmark, including gardens, country houses, an abandoned water tower, and Copenhagen’s Brorsons Church. The title, Silva, is Latin for “forest” or “woodland” and is not only a nod to Mother Nature, but also how Yngel see their creations existing as individual organisms that harmonise as a bigger whole. Such synergy is also true of the playing, as the 6 musicians sensitively and skilfully improvise around one another to the point where the voices of individual instruments are often hard to discern. 

The opening Å, Danish for “stream”, maps how a single raindrop can run from a river to the ocean. The soundscape patiently taking shape. Beginning with scratched, scurrying strings, and delicate drones, it rises through plucked pizzicato and bolder bowing to a climatic see-sawing melody. Resonating in rich textures of wood, stone, steel, horsehair, resin, and electricity. Throughout the album such melodies emerge but there are no hooks as such. The music is more a mood, or a feeling. Something that suggests a comfort found in the company of close friends and family. A tight knit sense of community, with others and our surroundings. Something that the 21st Century has perhaps largely forgotten. 

Feathers follows, with the guitars more obviously leading the way. The picking poignant, reflective, pondering on changing seasons. The chamber orchestra of cello, violin, and two violas providing sympathetic backing. Theirs are the reassuring words in the conversation. A shadowing rather than a discussion / call-and-response. The acoustic echoing the electric sentiments. High notes fly about like flocks of birds. The piece paints a peaceful landscape. Merging classical and folk in an intimate arrangement that invites, and rewards, deep listening. “Mistakes” are left in, adding a fragility. The US post-rock of David Pajo, The Rachels, and Tortoise, is a useful reference. 

Abor is a mini symphony of stretched, sustained tones. It’s a fine example of how the ensemble’s sonic sources are intricately woven about each other, so that only at the elegant frayed edges can you tell them apart. The guitars, in this case, are worked with slate, emitting piercing organic oscillations. The elements evolving from the random rhythm of a breeze blowing through branches to the bustle of a babbling brook. There are sections of shimmering interference that are sometimes searing, but the overall sheen is serene. Giving off hyperreal colours, suggesting a slightly spiked trip, where flowers fluoresce and possess a natural neon. 

Nupli centres around a proprietary 6-string technique that produces distinctive fluttering frequencies. These playful microtonal patterns introduce a swooning, romantic waltz. The instrumental interplay here is more traditional, conjuring a nostalgic Americana. A rose-tinted remembrance of the prairies and plains of an unspoiled mid-west, picturesque pioneer homesteads, and the beauty framed, say, in Terrence Malick’s cinematic masterpiece, Days Of Heaven. 

Sø, which translates as “Lake”, strokes flint on its strings, and is a 13-minute-plus epic of unhurried, improvised, storytelling. 

The closing title track, Silva, provides a perfect balance between the album’s experimental and more conventionally melodic moments. The silence that separates its motifs aims to mimic leaves gently falling to the ground, one by one. 

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Silva

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Silva