Stian Westerhus: Amputation album review

Norse jazz experimenter Stian Westerhus ventures even further out there…

Cover artwork for Stian Westerhus' Amputation

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Norwegian maverick Stian Westerhus is not a man prone to making records that adhere to a recognisable template. In fact, Amputation may well be the strangest thing he has released to date. A solo affair, wherein guitar, voice and drum machine collide in a sustained orgy of disorientating ambience, noise and atmospheric disquiet, this is an intensely experimental but oddly absorbing voyage. The opening Kings Never Sleep shimmers and warbles darkly amid bursts of mutant electronica, before Sinking Ships injects serenity and melody into amorphous walls of dissonance and drone.

How Long offers arguably the most bewildering moments: a rambling electronic intro gives way to a persistent, throbbing mantra that variously sounds like John Martyn, Peter Gabriel, Aphex Twin and The Haxan Cloak, often all at the same time. In contrast, the title track is a jarring collage of digital glitches, overdriven bass frequencies and, later, the genuinely unsettling sound of Westerhus’ voice set against waves of ghostly discord. This album may seem wilfully perverse at first, but there’s something irresistible going on behind its warped façade.

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.