Stian Westerhus Amputation on LP
Amputation, the new album by Stian Westerhus, may be centeredd on dislocation, loss and melancholia, yet from such turbulent origins a work of life-affirming catharsis has arrived. His first release for House of Mythology – following a plethora of acclaimed collaborative and solo work – is a triumph of experimentation and abstraction, marrying a fearless innovative drive with stark emotional resonance. Otherworldly and exhilarating, it's the sound of a virtuoso musician throwing away both caution and co-ordinates and taking a dive into the unknown, with spellbinding results.
Amputation, also marks new frontiers for this always bold and intrepid pathfinder, encompassing a mission in which Westerhus' ever-evolving exploration of his instrument combines with a series of soundworlds that seamlessly veer from tender melody to bracing electronic edifices of sound to convey a startlingly articulate speech of the heart. Though existing strictly in its own distinct headspace, the emotive cry of "How Long" – burnished by celestial guitar filigree and plaintive falsetto harmonies yet with a refrain that snags in the memory – is likely to strike a chord with admirers of latter-day Scott Walker, James Blake and Ben Frost alike. Meanwhile, the two part "Amputation" suite of Side Two is unflinching sturm-und-drang, using both forceful assaults of binary-derived noise and eerie disquiet to convey trauma and unease with bleak yet exhilarating potency.
Amputation is a fearless and uncompromising trawl into the murky depths of the psyche, one that has struck treasure in the form of an album unlike any you'll hear this year – the sound of a mercurial artist reaching between thought and expression to arrive at a vision by turns harrowing and heavenly in its intensity. "Thematically it's about leaving what is most precious and sacred behind," Westerhus explains. "About accepting loss, damage and defeat. About those moments when you realize you are on the very edge of life and society as you know it."