«Norwegian guitarist Petter Vågan may be a member of many formations, but his latest project is of a somewhat different stature. Together with drummer and percussionist Gard Nilssen, he set up Gigafon with a focus on contemporary jazz and improv, and the label’s first two releases give them both the opportunity to showcase some very different strands of their work.
With Marvel Machine, Vågan heads a trio formed of Rune Nergaard (bass/electronics) and Henning Carlsen (drums/electronics). Hailing from Trondhiem, the three regularly perform in a number of formations each, but with this project, they aim to combine elements of avant rock, pop music, jazz, improvisation and electronica into a coherent whole. Entirely improvised, Volt/Revolt is quite a complex and at times difficult affair, more likened to noise and experimental rock than to jazz. While they alternate between moments of sheer energy and gentler, more introspective pieces, this record’s overall feel is one of incredible intensity and vigor.
Vågan’s acidic guitar textures often slices through clouds of electronics and Nergaard’s dense angular bass formations, while Carlsen hammers on in the background. At times, the trio opt for rather heavy rock structures (Plongcore, Meanwhile, Back On Earth, CircleKing,Shell Shock), but they usually resort to lighter and less incisive forms, which can be somewhat minimal, at least in design (Volt/Revolt, Nightmarchers, Horseplay), on which guitar and bass take on some particular acrid angular forms as processed distortions are magnified and dissected, while Carlsen assembles abstracts drum sections. Even when things calm down, tension is never far. Rimrocked for instance can appear ethereal and peaceful, but below the surface bubble up fragments of processed guitars which constantly threaten the balance of the piece. Fog Of War is equally ridden with underlying electric currents, and even album closer 9 To 5 Rebel, on which Marvel Machine are found at their most introspective, is fuelled with dormant energy…
…These two radically different albums have very little in common, apart for the resolutely intriguing approach (info: double review for both Lord Kelvin and Marvel Machine) . Marvel Machine operate on the outer reach of experimental music, with strong connection to rock and noise, while Lord Kelvin indefinably find their ground within the confines of jazz. If the former’s debut album at times proves something of a challenge, its arid or heavy soundscapes and textures giving it a slightly somber appearance, the latter’s Radio Has No Future is a delightfully irreverent and playful collection.»
– Bruno Lasnier, The Milk Factory