The Norwegian word Flyt means “flux, flow or float” (nice alliteration!), and the subtitle of Haav‘s album is Water Music. This appealing set investigates the rhythmic and textural properties of water in myriad forms, from dripping pipes to flowing streams to snow and ice. From this description, one might think such an album would come across as scientific, but instead it is highly entertaining, making Haav seem like the cool professor from whom all students want to learn.
Take a moment to guess what might be on such an album. Storms and oceans are obvious guesses, and they do have a place here. But the expansion of the field to the seemingly mundane is part of the album’s appeal. We may never see a glacier, but most of us have kitchen sinks and ice cubes. By giving such facets equal weight, Haav highlights the flux of hydrogen and oxygen. We remember that 2/3 of the earth is covered with water, and that 60% of the human body is fluid as well. The connection is visceral.
Drips have a tempo; waves have a rhythm; tides have a cycle; rivers have a flow. Their musical facets are as clear as a secluded mountain stream. Haav approaches these field recordings with playfulness, embedding water music in ambient and electronic frameworks. The crisp sound design allows one to sink into these recordings, imagining their physical presence. The opening droplets of “Strømninger (Currents)” seem like the portents of a summer storm, hitting the tin roofs and air conditioners before the short, sweet deluge. But it’s not just a summer storm; the track follows the water swiftly from air to ground to stream. In contrast, “Kjøling (Cooling)” sounds like cold, crisp puddles joined by rhythmic beats and electronic fingersnaps. One can imagine dancing in the rain or on the deck of a ship.
In “Soldans,” the patters come across as a foreboding march, like the bucket-bearing brooms in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” albeit with a happy synth ending. But the most fun is found in “Isbiter (Ice Cubes),” which calls to mind the soda-selling commercials that run before movies, in which sound is used to produce saliva. Haav has had a blast recording this album, and the energy is contagious. The next time the rain falls, we may find ourselves turning off our own music to enjoy what nature has to offer. (Richard Allen)