CD review: Botanikk – Pauline Oliveros & co

First published in the Guardian on 22 September, 2016

Oliveros/Dillan/Storesund/Olsen S. (Atterklang)

One of the great recurring traits in the music of Pauline Oliveros — 84-year-old accordionist/improvisor who in the 1980s invented a Deep Listening practice to spur us into “listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what one is doing” —  is how she’s always a friend to her audience, always aware of how and where and why we might get something from a piece of improvisation. She’s also a restlessly alert collaborator and this release from Norwegian label Atterklang brings her together with some of Norway’s most adventurous youngish-generation improvisors: vocalist Lisa Dillan, bass player Oyvind Storesund and pianist Else Olsen S. It’s an album all about plants, seven tracks named after seven northerly flowers, with a delicate Saxifraga Cotyledon (filmy, tentative), a creepy devil’s-bit scabious (barbed, nasal), a stoic arctic starflower primrose (gorgeously mulchy sounds from Storesund). In Calluna Vulgaris — that classic purple Scottish heather — Oliveros’s accordion makes a hardy centrifugal point to skittish textural stuff from the others, but elsewhere she’s the one who instigates the flightiest directions of play.