The Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset is an inventor and creator of extrovert sound tapestries and generates almost spheric clouds of energy with the help of his instruments, variable effect pedals and a computer. Besides working with his own band “The Sonic Codex Orchestra” Aarset has also worked in the bands of Nils Petter Molvaer and Bugge Weseltoft and can be heard on their most important works as a master of the musical texture and, as he puts it eloquently, a “traditional non-traditionalist”. Carina Prange talked to Eivind Aarset for Jazzdimensions.
C.P.: A general question to start with: soundscapes, energy, melody, texture … which role do these aspects have in your music? Do you have a personal definition for them?
E.A.: Well, if you add harmony as well, I guess these are the building blocks I use when I make music. Soundscape and texture are parts of the same thing for me. It is the sensual perception of the music, the physical presence. Energy is what the music needs to come alive. I love good melodies, but I can also easily enjoy music without any obvious melodies. This is probably reflected in my music: sometimes melodies are very important and sometimes not that important. Texture and energy, at the other hand, are always important.
C.P.: In one of your interviews you mentioned that you see yourself in the group of people who are not going with the established, traditional sound of the electric guitar. Are there fellow non-traditionalist guitarists you feel related to?
E.A: I think everybody is inspired by someone or something and have their set of references. And in that sense everybody are traditionalists. But I guess in a classic “jazz” sense I am still a non-traditionalist. I feel more related and inspired by guitar players like Pete Cosey, David Torn, Nels Cline, Adrian Belew, Christian Fennesz, Hilmar Jensson or Daniel Lanois than by more conventional jazz players.
C.P.: When does the non-traditional start to become a tradition?
E.A: As I said earlier, I think no one is outside a tradition and I don’t mind that at all. But it is the museum approach to music that doesn’t appeal to me. I think it is boring when music becomes a set of rules what is correct and what is not and the aim is becoming something like how to sound like, for instance Miles, James Brown or Hendrix … Well I am sure you can learn a lot from it, but personally I think the original will always sound better! I read somewhere that Gustav Mahler once said that “Tradition is the passing on of fire and not the adoration of ashes.” (edit from Jazzdimensions)