PREMIERE and Review: Sternlumen - 'Nørrebro Nights'
We have 2 more new band / artist introductions from Denmark to bring you shortly, but for now we're delighted to write about the Danish composer and pianist Sternlumen, with his album 'Nørrebro Nights' released Friday, and of which we've been given kind permission to give you an advance listen.
Behind Sternlumen is the musician Thomas Kudela, who was born in Germany but has been a long time resident of Copenhagen. After a long hiatus from writing, he returned in 2016 with the album 'Sternlumen', which was received well by those that covered and heard it - and which is still quite easy to find online, if you want still to listen. Now he has written a 6 track album entitled 'Nørrebro Nights', a lovely homage to Nørrebro, a multi-cultural and art centred district of Copenhagen, which sounds a bit like the Northern Quarter in Manchester.
'Nørrebro Nights' is a delightful series of piano compositions, which take influences from classical, jazz and minimalist composers - understandably he's been compared to the likes of Nils Frahm, but it's fair enough to mention the likes of Max Richter too. The first track is the the previously released 'Red Wine Melancholia', deliberate chords to open followed by long complex flowing passages, it's as if the original good intentions of opening the bottle of wine are taken over by a long period of contemplative sadness, that can't really be undone. 'Nørrebrogade', named after the main thoroughfare and shopping centre of Nørrebro, feels hectic, constantly changing musical patterns, a whirlwind of activity conjuring images of a constantly evolving street scene that builds to a climax.
'Neon Lakes' was released last month, and paints a lovely picture of the night time lights reflecting on the Copenhagen Lakes, before the beautifully written 'Kierkegaard between trees and spheres', which opens up into the most lovely 'romantic' sounding melody, and which briefly reminds me of of Arvo Pärt. 'Regina' is more reflective, with some subtle variations in tempo, which allow the full expressive nature of 'Sternlumen's' piano playing to come through, whilst the album concludes with 'Morgendämmerung' (Dawn), and in many ways it is my favourite track, fleeting tunes help build the picture of sunlight breaking through into the sky, and it is an intimate and thoughtful piece of music.
You can stream the full album here, before it's official release Friday.
'Nørrebro Nights' by Sternlumen is a real success. Firstly I'm struggling to think of an composition or album (especially instrumental) which is such a successful tribute to an area, and makes me want to visit it so much myself - although I'm sure observant readers will now bombard me with countless examples of similarly themed albums. But musically this is an album to get totally absorbed and lost in, that weaves beautiful patterns that totally consume the mind. Technical brilliance is balanced by a delicacy in the writing, and the whole album has been thought through so clearly, and paints vivid pictures of the Nørrebro district. I really hope it captures everyone's imagination as it has mine.
Nordic Music Review 8/10
If you're in Copenhagen, there's a release concert on Friday - more details here: