Espen Sommer Eide – Selected Works

Espen Sommer Eide – artist/composer

Phonophani aka Espen Sommer Eide. 

Animal Imagination is the latest album by Espen Sommer Eide, recording as Phonophani. It marks the return by Eide to his occasional alias Phonophani, whose self-titled debut was released (on the Biophon label) as long ago as 1998, followed by ‘Genetic Engineering’ for Rune Grammofon in 2001. It also represents Eide's return (since Phonophani's ‘Kreken’, from 2010) to the solo album format itself, after a period of working predominantly in experimental sound or audio art projects, and with Alog, his longstanding partnership with Dag-Are Haugan. In 2005, Alog received the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy, the Spellemannprisen, and were nominated once again in 2007.

More info and buy the new album at Hubro.


phonophani - phonophani // biophon 1998

phonophani - genetic engineering  // runegrammofon 2001

FjernFjernKontrollKontroll - Spunk Filtered through friends // rune grammofon 2001

Duperbeach (the Duet mix) - On Sister Sonny Duper Beach EP // REC 90 2001

Beyond that place... Dragons! // Audio Dregs 2002

Bees - they will sting you - 7" spilt with Vibracathedral Orchestra // Milkland 2003

phonophani - oak or rock  // runegrammofon 2004

Andreas' memory piano (phonophani remix) // enlightenment 2005

phonophani - phonophani // runegrammofon re-release 2006

phonophani - kreken // runegrammofon 2010

phonophani - animal imagination  // hubro 2017

Reviews for Kreken:

Kreken is perhaps Sommer Eide’s most personal record to date. It is also his richest and most complex. The acoustic nature of his sound sources is apparent throughout, and tints the record with beautiful tonal nuances, from the earthy drones of a violin or the stern thuds of a drum to the spritely élans of a flute, but these are submitted to intense processing, often distorting them or warping them beyond recognition. Layered into fragile formations, these take on an infinite number of shapes, from the spellbinding jig of Kvaale II or the wonderful textures of the title track to the warm accordion motif of closing piece Ilka, and contribute greatly to make Kreken an extremely colourful and pastoral work... A true original and an inspired artist, Espen Sommer Eide has once again created with Kreken a work that is like no other, and while he in essence sticks to a formula which has until now proven extremely successful, his approach is totally different, and pushes into territories he has never ventured in before. He has, with every new Phonophani record, become more confident in his method. This record is the work of a visionary musician at his creative peak. 4.9/5.
The Milk Factory (UK)

There´s a tendency in much recent electronica to fill up silence with activity, as if the listener can be transported by maxing out the available audio space. On "Kreken", instrument builder Espen Sommer Eide posits that it´s possible to achieve a rarefied, surreal intensity without overdosing the listener on input. Key to Eide´s approach in keeping one ear on melody and the other on texture. Throughout, Eide keeps everything one step shy of the acousmatic ideal, every instrumental colour hovering between familiar and alien, and grafted onto diverse, assymetrical song structures. Eide´s sensitive ear for arrangement shows most plainly in how he incorporates the human voice. Three different vocalists appear, and Eide foregrounds them without making his compositions more conventional. He fades them in and out of the flow of the pieces, insinuates their phrasing into the rhythms and lets them suggest new directions. He pushes the croon beyond intimacy towards a more interior, imaginary space, a place that´s all the more intense by being so hard to get to.
The Wire (UK)

While Espen Sommer Eide's pastoral ambient project Phonophani has been most notable in the past for using live instruments, deconstructed in real time, to build his soundscapes, this conceit has always been a bit tenuous to the casual listener. In a live setting, it's a grand theatrical flourish to watch process-based art take shape, but the documentation of those processes, while pleasantly beautiful on their own, do feel a bit light when the mechanism has more promise than the result. With Kreken, however, Eide has settled on a recapitulation of the traditional music of Norway through the lens he has been chiseling over the past 12 years. Electronic textures wither into re-imagined reed and vocal tropes that are less faithful reproduction, and more evocative musical euphemisms of lands of moss, campfire and tundra. The album also benefits significantly from the vocal contributions of three female Norwegian singers: Jenny Hval, Haco and Agnethe Christensen. On "Neverdal" in particular, the vocals are treated subtly to reveal their inherent polyphonic vocal overtones, especially in conjunction with the warmly wheezing processed bellows and zither. That Eide writes all his own sound manipulation algorithms may be beside the point, but it does imbue the proceedings with a sense of the unattainable, that this is a statement that was not just made, but created exclusively as a means to its own end. Fans of the Fonal label, and particularly the distinctly Finnish sounds of ES, Paavoharju or Islaja would do well to make note of this release, as it is a very succinct take on ideas that have been mined from a parallel nature. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
Other Music (US)

Espen Sommer Eide macht aus Hard Core-Elektronik wunderliche Sanglichkeiten.  Die Dekonstruktion alter Folk-Instrumente produziert neue Wege des Erschauerns.
Michael Engelbrecht, Deutschlandfunk (DE)

Der Elektroniker, Computermusiker, Programmierer, Instrumentenbauer und Multiinstrumentalist Espen Sommer Eide verlegt sich hier – nach extensiver Rock’n’Roll- und Computermusikvergangenheit – ausgerechnet aufs Brauchtum, auf traditionelle (Volks-)Musiken, ihre Instrumente, ihre Gesänge und ihre digitale Verfremdung. Alle Tracks auf „Kreken“ sind nach Orten in Norwegen benannt, die nach Angaben der Plattenfirma selbst für norwegische Ohren exotisch klingen. Zu dem Zweck umgibt sich die One-Man-Band Sommer Eide, die auf visionäre Weise alte Weisen mit ihrer innovativen Neudeutung verknüpft, sich ihrer völkischen Elemente entledigt und sie stattdessen an Luftwurzeln ansiedelt, mit gleichgesinnten Fortschrittsartisten wie dem Gitarristen David Grubbs und der japanischen Experimentalvokalistin Haco. Resultat: ein so sexy wie sperriges, Konkret- und Abstrakheit virtuos ineinander verschachtelndes Album, das neugierig auf mehr macht und zugleich einen nicht zu unterschätzenden Unterhaltungsfaktor aufweist.
Freistil (AT)

Auf dem oft recht spröden Experimentallabel rune grammophon tummeln sich die norwegischen Hipster zwischen Jazz, Improv und Krach. Espen Sommer Eide sticht mit seinem Projekt Phonophani daraus hervor, weil sein Brückenschlag zwischen Elektronik und Folklore zugleich experimentell und elegant, archaisch und modern, magisch und wohlklingend ist. Fantastisch! Einer der Gäste auf dem neuen Album, Kreken“ ist David Grubbs.
Kompakt Disk (DE)

Det er lett å trekke frem Jenny Hvals lyse toner på "Mendel" som en skjør og vakker englesang, for vakkert er det virkelig. Selv har jeg i tillegg stor sans for Agnethe Christensens folkemusikalske preg på "Neverdal", som bader i Sommer Eides motsetningsfylte lyder og får det til å høres ut som et strandet romskip på en norsk fjellstøl. Det er også på denne måten gjestemusikerne arrangeres inn i musikken; det elektroniske pakker inn det akustiske. Undertegnedes favoritt  er kanskje siste spor, "Ilka", der pedalene på trøorgelet synes hentet fra pedalene på en en-giret sykkel i oppoverbakke, hvor tonenen formelig presses gjennom orgel og høyttalere, stadig innpakket i knitring, blip-blop og kontrasterende rytmer. Dette er et punktum som understreker den vellykkede stilblandingen gjennom hele platen.
Jazznytt (NO)

Previous albums

The opening 'Lavenderloops' is one of the most astonishing tracks you will hear this year, layered vocoders twisting into disembodied psychic reel, while 'Cook Islands' plaites vocal abstractions into vivid synapse-tapestry. It's all too easy for electronic wanderers to rely on the glitch and the drone: this brilliantly unnerving record repaints the atmosphere in a thousand shades of strange (8/10). New Musical Express, UK

Crystal clear production and visionary artistry make this a brilliant sophomore effort and one of the label's best releases yet. Motion, UK

50 minutes of sublime sonic experimentation that seldom loses your attention and gets down to inventing it´s own, runic musical language. A quiet triumph. Muzik, UK

A strange and beautiful beast. Wire, UK

A second album from Norwegian Espen Sommer Eide, his first on this consistently interesting label. It's digital stuff, Eide's own software gradually mutating loops in a gentle and very modern ambient style. His sounds change with a very naturalsounding unpredictability; it«s beautiful. Flux, UK

Drones and glitches have become the lingua franca of experimental electronica and it is rare that an artist forces them to articulate anything different. Genetic Engineering begins with the striking Lavenderloops, twisting vocodered phrases into a beautiful melody. The occasional vocals, as on End of all Things, enhance the disembodiment, a sense of mental static lovingly pressed on to a small silver disc. The Times, UK

Both (Phonophani and Supersilent) possess the ability to let you wander off yet find yourself returning to their absorbing textures, becoming an integral part of your environment, as per Eno's definition of ambient. Beware, instant hit music is a barely visible dot on the horizon from this, but if you've got some time and concentration to spare, these are worth spending it on. 8/10. Wax, UK

An often unsettling slice of electronica combining melody and subliminal disturbances. Mojo, UK

Phonophani distils his obfuscated samples into post-Oval music that is strange, beautiful and moving. Phonopanis boreal scrapes, throbs and ticks are as emotive as any other record issued this year. Ammocity, UK


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