When: Sat., Nov. 21, 8 p.m. 2015
I first heard Norwegian vocalist Stine Janvin Motland when she performed as part of a quartet featuring Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm called VC/DC. While that context illustrated her nascent gifts as a free improviser, it certainly didn’t prepare me for the techniques and inventive virtuosity she serves up on her 2014 solo debut, OK, Wow (+3dB). Her precision and control are startling as she unleashes heart-stopping cries that maintain a piercing, high-pitched intensity, or makes tiny little sounds like the cracked gargle on “Kroken” that’s complemented by an almost tender drone. Elsewhere she delivers seemingly invented words in a dizzying rush, as well as sinister heavy breathing, snorelike growls, ghostly long tones, and plenty of other utterances that exist in the space between speech and song, words and noise. Made in an old wooden church outside Bergen, OK, Wow includes the pattering of rain and the voices of a kindergarten class bleeding into the space, but on her most recent album, In Labour (Pica Disk), she actively duets with background noise. Working with sound artist Lasse Marhaug, Motland recorded each piece in different indoor and outdoor areas that essentially forced her to work with various ambient sounds—and she doesn’t respond so much as find a way in. Amid passing conversations and chirping birds she produces a jackhammerlike sound on “Can’t Get Any Closer,” while on “Late Morning” she dishes out shrill, post-Yoko shrieks that, depending on your perspective, either fit right in or clash with the noisy rock band rehearsing in the distance. For her Chicago debut Motland will follow a similar model, performing pieces in different spaces in the building; she’ll also deliver a more conventional improvised piece in front of listeners.