RURAL TAPES Auditory Canvasses

RURAL TAPES is the moniker of the Norwegian producer and multi-instrumentalist Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen — the founding member of highly acclaimed bands such as I Was A King, Heroes & Zero — as well as the bi-continental collective The No Ones.

Mathisen’s career has seen him receive multiple Norwegian Grammy nominations, tour Europe, and infiltrate the United States.

On his new self-titled record, Mathisen plays drums, drum machines, clavier, synthesizers, vocals, string instruments, some tuba and horns… so if you like the idea of a perfect jumble of clever sounds that have been expertly patchworked into amazing auditory canvasses… this will be your thing.

The biggest influence on the album has probably been the surroundings and the environment it was recorded in,” the musician declares. Mathisen has never been formally educated, neither as a musician nor as a studio technician.

Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen

Yet the disc features exciting collaborations with the likes of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of R.E.M, Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey, Tom Waits), Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor) and Rhodri Marsden (Scritti Politti) and it’s an epiphanic sojourn that draws inspiration from jazz, 70s krautrock, film music, Chopin and virtuosic post-rock bands like Tortoise.

Rural Tapes sel-titled debut

Tracks such as the exquisite “Pardon My French” (now released as a single) have interlocking, multi-dimensional rhythms that will appeal to Jan Hammer fans as well as dedicated Tangerine Dreamers and seasoned Kraftwerkers. The sax brings a playfulness to the sound that is best compared to the earliest and freshest Roxy Music. And the overall impression is that of “Atom Heart Mother” era Pink Floyd in both hypnotic scope and kaleidoscopic complexity.

Lost In Sound” (featuring Scott McCaughey) is far more lollygagging — this is a sweet jazzy parlor-song with gingery pops and a sense of winey yumminess. 

Reddal” is constructed in a polite &, well mannered way, and reminds us of something that could have been played by keyboardist John Hawken in Hero and Heroine (Strawbs, 1973). The song will also appeal to fans of the Mike Oldfield Incantations era.

And “The Observer” combines dramatic layers of samba with hints of haunting woo-woo and shades of sadness in its tender heart, to bring something that John Barry would be proud to pair with his “Girl with the Sun in Her Hair” (1967). In other words, this is a meticulously refined and well-informed fantasia for a digital age.

Blissfully impeccable!

Words: @neilmach 2021 ©


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