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Rural Tapes: Tracks That Shaped My Sound

Norwegian producer and multi-instrumentalist Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen, under the moniker Rural Tapes, is set to release his highly anticipated third album, 'Contact,' on February 23rd via Smuggler Music. Following the success of his critically acclaimed albums 'Inner Space Music' (2022) and 'Rural Tapes' (2021), this new record showcases Mathisen's exceptional talent in crafting mainly instrumental compositions.

While the public announcement of the album is scheduled for January 12th, Rural Tapes offers an exclusive early listen to the full record, including the first single 'Run Rapid.'

'Contact' draws inspiration from a diverse range of influences, incorporating elements of jazz, film music, warped electronics, synths, German krautrock, and compositions reminiscent of Steve Reich, Basil Kirchin, John Baker, and Arne Nordheim. In an era hurtling toward an autonomous future, Mathisen takes a deliberate step back on this album, favoring old analogue equipment and historic instrumentation over modern technological advances.

The album features Mathisen's mastery on various instruments, including organs, synthesizers, mellotron, piano, drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, zither, gamelan, tuba, and tape units. Collaborating with talented musicians like Lars Løberg Tofte (bass), Marin Stallemo Bakke (violin), Sigurd Thomassen (acoustic guitar), and Øystein Braut (electric & steel guitar), 'Contact' seamlessly blends traditional and contemporary sounds.

With a musical journey spanning almost two decades, Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen has been a key figure in prominent Norwegian bands like I Was A King and Heroes & Zeros. His recent releases include contributions to the bi-continental jangle band The No Ones, featuring Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey from R.E.M. and Minus 5, alongside I Was A King frontman Frode Strømstad.

Rural Tapes has earned widespread acclaim from publications such as MOJO, Uncut, GQ, The Independent, Prog, Electronic Sound, Shindig, Computer Music, Record Collector, Future Music, and more, solidifying Mathisen's position as a vital name in the Norwegian music scene.

'Contact' is a testament to reconnecting with tangible and emotional elements, showcasing Rural Tapes' dedication to pushing musical boundaries. The album invites listeners to explore a future sound shaped by the equipment of the past. The team behind 'Contact' is eager to hear your thoughts and would be honored if you considered covering Rural Tapes around the release.

We spoke to him about the tracks that shaped his sound, check it out:

1.    Basil Kirchin – Mind on the Run. 

Basil Kirchin is a composer I’ve had a huge fascination for in recent years. I take inspiration from him in many ways, but I like the way he sometimes combines almost a raw punk-ish energy with melodic finesse. This track is quite an obvious inspiration for my first single, ‘Run Rapid’, I would even call it a homage.   

2.   Faust – Krautrock. 

I find Faust's sonic palette and textures extremely colourful and very inspiring. They had a unique studio and loads of custom-made effects, and that`s probably one reason they sound like no other. In the track ‘Krautrock’ this sonic brilliance really emerges, and this band motivates me to find my own unique way of creating textures in the music I write. I think their spirit is all over my new album ‘Contact’.  

3.   Steve Reich – Piano Phase. 

Steve Reich's phase experiments and compositions can be addictive stuff if you go deep into it. I consider myself the opposite of the minimalist he was, I probably don't have the guts to compose as strict stuff as he did, but I do use some of his phase techniques in my music on this album. Some tracks on ‘Contact’ have ended up as what I would call deep listening music, and I’d say Steve Reich is partly responsible for that. 

4.    John Cage – Imaginary Landscape No.5. 

I’m not heavily into John Cage`s artistry, but I do own an LP with his early tape experiments which I enjoy very much. Old reel to reel and cassette recorders suddenly ended up as some of my most important instruments on this album, and Cage's music and especially this track has probably been in my subconsciousness while working on this. Tape collages is something I really enjoyed working with, as it sparks your imagination.

Rural Tapes new album Contact will be released on February 23rd via Smuggler Music. It is available to pre-order here

The first single ‘Run Rapid’ is out now available to listen to below:


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