With The Hypogean, Kvernberg avoids travel restrictions by drilling down into the earth’s surface. Sometimes like a runaway gravity train, other times like a strong silent machine through echoing caverns. Destination? Earth’s glowing iron heart, for the last two years also the scene of Kvernberg’s private escape room, with no rules to the game and an extensive approach to what rhythm and harmonies can do with a club floor.
When the Steamdome thundered through the sound barrier three years ago, the praise showered down from the press and audiences. Sold-out concerts, several prestigious awards and a top 10 position on the list of Norway’s best-selling vinyl records later, the sequel is here. Where the debut album’s dogma was pure-cultivated, organic, percussive music, The Hypogean delivers synths, drum machines, prepared piano, arps, pump organ and vocals. With a jazz musician’s impatient DNA and a film composer’s flair for concept and drama, recycling his work is never an option for Ola Kvernberg. On The Hypogean, musicians step out of their usual roles. On occasion, Ola replaces his fiddle with a drum machine and synth bass, bassist Nikolai Hængsle picks up the guitar and Daniel Formo leaves his Hammond organ to set the soundscape aflame with homemade noise machines.
As one of Norway’s most versatile musicians and composers, encountering club music ultimately ignited the spark Ola needed to start the Steamdome train back in 2016. With several of Norway’s most influential musicians on board, the ball began to roll in earnest. The album quickly developed into the band Steamdome, and one of the most remarkable commercial breakthroughs for a Norwegian jazz musician became a matter of fact. Steamdome today consists of Ola Kvernberg, co-producer and drummer / percussionist Erik Nylander (Monoswezi, Liarbird, Mechanical Fair), drummer Olaf Olsen (Bigbang, Fra Det Onde), percussionist Martin Windstad (Kurt Nilsen, Todd Terje), bassist and guitarist Nikolai Hængsle (Band of Gold, Bigbang, Møster), Øyvind Blomstrøm (Orions Belte, Odd Nordstoga) and Daniel Buner Formo (Trondheim Jazzorkester, Kobert.) «Steamdome II: The Hypogean» was recorded by Dag Erik Johansen and Kai Andersen in the legendary Athletic Studio and mixed in Duper Studio by Jørgen Træen.
The Hypogean is a subterranean journey with musical nods to Gustav Mahler, Fela Kuti, John Williams, Luke Vibert, Kraftwerk, Caetano Veloso, yMusic, Billie Eilish and Squarepusher.