Myhre makes his solo debut with the release of the captivating and mysterious Unheimlich Manoeuvre. The title is an obvious play on the life-saving technique, though whether the added negation makes the threatening or simply subverted remains ambiguous. More to the point, the English translation of unheimlich is “uncanny” or “eerie” – an apt descriptor for the sounds that Myhre creates. To borrow a phrase from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Myhre conjures aural landscapes that suggest “a place both wonderful and strange,” stunning in their beauty with something alluringly unsettling lurking just underneath.
While the 2020 pandemic has led to a definite surge in solo projects necessitated by quarantine conditions, Myhre began work on Unheimlich Manoeuvre in September 2019, long before Covid had intruded on the world’s consciousness. The album is the end result of Myhre’s career-long experimentation with his approach to his instrument, evolved via his work with others yet ultimately yielding rich results in his own personal expression.
While the pandemic may not have instigated the project, it certainly provided Myhre with the significant free time he needed to record it. It also allowed him to invite remote contributions from a number of collaborators, leading to guest appearances by Iranian tombak player Kaveh Mahmudiyan; Iceland’s Ólafur Björn Ólafsson, here playing organ; vocalist Vivian Wang of the Singaporean art-rock band The Observatory; and Norwegian compatriots Jo David Meyer Lysne (guitar), Jana Anisimova (piano), and Morten Qvenild (synth).
While collaboration thus entered the realm of the soundworlds Myhre crafted for Unheimlich Manoeuvre, it was at a distance and after the fact, making the project – which Myhre recorded, mixed and produced entirely on his own – an exercise in self-exploration.
The nine tracks that comprise Unheimlich Manoeuvre were largely born out of free improvisation (the sole exception is the dreamlike Gate Opens, penned with Jo David Meyer Lysne’s acoustic guitar in mind. The second half of the two-part “Smallest Things” also includes text from writer Raymond Carver’s short story “I Could See the Smallest Things” recited by Wang, who Myhre first heard on an album by singer-songwriter Jenny Hval. The reading plays out over a monolithic, unnerving wash of sound incorporating Qvenild’s synth and Ólafsson’s organ.