Rutger Hauser is Lisa Busby, Jamie Coe, Rose Dagul, John Harries, Ian Stonehouse and Klaemint Hofgaard.
During the summer of 2018 we travelled to the Faroe Islands to record a second album, which became The Swim sometime later. We lived and worked for a week in a community hall called Sólarmagn, on the coast at Velbastaður looking out towards Hestur and Koltur, the horse and colt, and the Atlantic beyond. That and more (amps, cello and drum kit, studio gear, pillows and bedding) was made possible by the generosity of various individuals and organisations on the islands and by the dedicated organizational work of Klaemint, the band’s Faroese guitarist.
Velbastaður is a bleakly beautiful place, but it was uncharacteristically sunny for most of the week. On Friday night, the sessions complete, the fog came down and we drank and danced enveloped in grey nothing.
The place is in the music - the sound of the big, wood-panelled room, the coast road empty in both directions and the sea outside the window.
The Swim sounds like a group of people working things out together. If we could do without pre-determined form and without conventions of improvised music; if we could not necessarily be drummer, bass player, guitarist, cellist, electronicist, but sometimes just people playing together in different combinations; unspecialised, unsure. It’s mostly first or second takes. When we did things more times, they usually ended up worse.
Sean Woodlock recorded the sessions, helped us to make sense of the music before and after. Back at home, the recordings were mixed in a second week by John Harries, and some overdubs added by Ian Stonehouse. Otherwise, they sound now not much different to how they sounded in the room at Sólarmagn. The vinyl cut was by Noel Summerville, and art and design by John Harries. The album is co-released by Adaadat (UK) and Tutl
Released July 1, 2019
Claire Biddles for The Wire: “The multitudinous nature of the Faroes is key to London six-piece experimental rock outfit Rutger Hauser’s second album The Swim. Recorded in the village of Velbastaður, a coastal settlement considered one of the oldest on the islands, it is an esoteric, multifaceted record fusing improvisation, DIY electronics and cross-genre structures. Like the islands themselves, the record is initially intriguing in its details and individual parts, revealing its rich wholeness over time...The album’s sense of drive and experimentation is not just in the playing itself, but in the openness with which different genres and forms are tested out...There’s a palpable trust that feels integral to how well the songs fit together, a belief in something close to supernatural in the group dynamic that enables them to make sense as a whole. The songs as artefacts become more than the sum of their individual elements elevated by something like alchemy.”
Luke Cartledge for The Quietus: “Somewhere between the two chronological and stylistic extremes of the South London experimental canon, partially bridging the gap between the uncompromising future-building of This Heat and the caterwauling noise-funk of Black Midi, lie improv-rock sextet, Rutger Hauser…The Swim is testament to the uniquely open, porous nature of improvised music; skilfully delivered yet invitingly playful and inquisitive, it never feels obtuse or inaccessible. There’s something about the indeterminacy of the record that gives it an amorphous quality, making it feel markedly different from listen to listen. What results is a work of gentle exhilaration, that feels as profound when listened to on the 21 bus as it does when consumed way beyond the clamour of the city.”
Tim Parkinson, BBC Radio 3 New Music Show 14/9/19: “I’d really recommend this album…It’s unafraid to create soundscapes, then go into things that are more riff-based, there’s vocals as well, there’s spoken word. There’s a lot going on here!”
Utility Fog: "It's an extraordinary concoction, ranging from outrageous folk-punk-ska(?) to eldritch doomy electric cello, to glitching spoken word, strangely affecting drone-noise and god knows what else. It comes in a beautifully-packaged limited 12" edition, worth pre-ordering now."
Lost in a Sea of Sound: “Traversing a cacophonous gathering of harmony and beats with such ease and style, The Swim smoothly lays down it’s own idiom in music. Like the flight of a dragon fly, unpredictably swift until coming to rest, then a transitory moment for showing it’s beauty…The Swim evades genres, a mystifying achievement since the entire listen is acutely harmonious.”
Toneshift: “These six players do incredible justice to the material, it’s got a good sense of funk while remaining tight lipped, foghorn and all. If this sounds unusual, oh, darlin’ it is! In the best way...Dragged out, stretched, eventually becoming more pattern than message. Their collective riff and wrangle becomes a fleeting dreamscape of murmurs and basstone...It’s orchestral and completely ambiguous – like a gigantic ship quietly vanishing into the horizonline in fog.”