«It was time to get urban, and feel the exciting, fantastic privilege of living in a multicultural world in which music is the universal language,» says Geir Lysne, summing up the goal of «New Circle». And so it is that the urban groove of the introductory «Please Welcome!». Moving across all continents and using everything from Ravel’s Bolero to Asian chants, inevitably casts a spell on the listener. The feeling of missing something («Sakn» in Norwegian) is examined in the Asian- American-European just as much as are works from earlier Lysne albums.
But this isn’t Lysne turning his back on his former composition principles and working methods. On the contrary, it is their compression and intensification. Although the foundation is only five acoustic instrumentalists: Eckhard Baur, Olav Torget, Gjermund Silset and Knut Aalefjaer, «New Circle» sounds almost no less orchestral than the earlier albums. The key element here is Reidar Skar, a «true master of the computer,» as Lysne says. Skar formed this «electro-acoustic recomposition production» (Lysne) with his alienations and innovative computer sounds, without infringing on the artistic integrity of Lysne’s orchestrations, subtleties, double entendres, his predilection for folk singers, ethnic grooves, strong melodies and soundscapes.
Kaa, the Jungle Book python that Lysne once introduced on «Boshjenasti», now slithers up-tempo and bouncy through an urban jungle full of associations and bursting at the seams with sounds. The piece based on Joik singing of the Sami people is back again too – but «A Million Stars» this time not only twinkle above the Nordic tundra (brought to shine, for example, by Peter Baden’s electro percussion and the trombone of Lysne’s famed big-band colleague Helge Sunde), but also over the Vietnamese jungle, sung of by the great Huong Thanh and accompanied by the guitar of Nguyên Lê. The British comic heroine «M.B.», brought to life in a musical sense on «Korall», also gains a little, African niece, in the person of «Amana Na Nunga».
A Norwegian church psalm is then also given an African incarnation by the Senegalese singer and kora player Solo Cissoko and Renate Alsing’s marimba from Zimbabwe. «Alwilly» – as just prior to it «22» – is a meditation on the Norwegian trauma of 22 July – a political song, a summons to rise up for peace on earth. But in his music, Geir Lysne already masters this enormous challenge that society and politics will long struggle to get a grip on. He makes global diversity sound as if it had always been unified.