By Amanda Nordqvist
Two years after his successful release, I Know This Place, Tortusa recently released another collaborative album, this time with Norwegian jazz saxophonist and fellow electronic composer Inge Weatherhead Breistein. Using samples of saxophone recordings and processing them through various soft- and hardware, Tortusa has created an eclectic mix of rhythmic experimentations, different textures and ambiences, and intriguing soundscapes.
Mind Vessel begins with the deep abyss of Hopes, an overwhelming sense of doom in those echoing chambers, tinged with a subtle gentleness to the dread. A sudden voice in the hopelessness takes tone, a voice of sobriety but also curiosity, and starts telling the same story from a different angle, thus allowing it to be viewed in a more nuanced light: suddenly the dark just doesn’t seem as daunting any more. The slow, deep, jazzy thing called Snow Mold comes next, taking ambience to a whole new level, telling of how important the recording spaces have proven to be for the collaborating duo. With variations of closeness, the saxophone somehow both unexpected and completely true to the sound, the track is buzzing with energy and inspiration, enclosing me with warmth and confidence.
The title track proves the perfect example of the experimental nature of the duo, with the sax ticking like Morse code – I can’t help but wonder what it’s saying, who it’s calling out for: what message it has to convey. When a new voice chimes in I needn’t wonder any longer, as two souls call out to each other, like birds across an ocean, weeping in the same language but on different wave lengths. Another glorious track follows – Keep Coming Back introduces a gentle, natural backdrop, through which the listener is being lead by the flighty sax, a hopeful thing, lighting the way. The droning drifts off into a different state of being, with echoing percussion, a close-up of the saxophone, and eerie whistling soaring off with the wind
The erratic footsteps through crisp snow in Rusting in the Shallow take me on a last trip through the Nordic woods, and as the album comes to an end I find myself simultaneously emptied out and completely filled up with sounds and images I hadn’t thought to envision before. Mind Vessel has proven itself to be another fascinating exploration of sound manipulation and combinations unthought-of, expertly manufactured by two souls with, what seems like, a shared passion for the mix of exotic, jazzy and experimental.