Grand Mutation

Grand Mutation cover
Album description/subtitle:
Marhaug | Asheim “Grand Mutation”
Release year:
  • Lasse Marhaug, electronics
  • Nils Henrik Asheim, organ
About the album:

Lasse Marhaug and Nils Henrik Asheim started their collaboration in 2004 at the All Ears festival in Oslo, Norway. This turned out as a fruitful meeting between two musicians of very different backgrounds. Marhaug’s feedback to Asheim’s organ sounds in the Oslo concert started to reflect how the work was to develop. Asheim is working with half-stops and subtle playing techniques that create multiple layers of sound with a vibrating or fluctuating character, as well as with the power of the full organ. Marhaug’s tools belong to the world of sine wave oscillators and noise generators. The aim was to set a sonic frame into which they could both gradually tune.


The two musicians met again in June 2006 just before Oslo Cathedral (which contains Asheim’s favourite instrument) closed down for a few years of renovation work. One day of soundcheck and musical work and one night of recording produced an improvised flow of one hour, afterwards structured into five tracks.

The recording was made in a live setup on the organ loft. Nils Henrik Asheim was sitting at the organ console and Lasse Marhaug right behind, playing his electronics through a loudspeaker system in order to make the electronics and the acoustic organ sound blend as close to each other as possible. Sound engineer Thomas Hukkelberg used two custom-built condenser mics for the organ, two Shure KSM 44 for the electronics and two Neumann U87 by the altar for the ambience. He used a Millennia Media HV-3 preamp and an Apogee AD-16X converter. The recordings were made at night to avoid unwanted ambient city sounds. The final mix was made by Marhaug in January 2007.

Additional information:

Read all reviews in full on

“one of the most fascinating albums to come from the Touch camp in awhile” Eureka

“This is an extremely coherent and inspired album”

“Det er gruopvækkende og smukt på én gang, men som digteren Rainer Maria Rilke skrev: ”Frygtelig er hver en engel”.

“…possibly the most daring and successful of the whole lot, and immediately ranks among the best fringe recordings of 2007.” Chain D.L.K

“Würde sich hervorragend machen als Soundtrack für einen der nächsten Lars Von Trier Filme, mit dem Titel - Mindset Happenings (Oh, What Time Now Is Hell?)” Hair Entertainment

“Grand mutation, enregistré en une nuit seulement, est un grand parcours en cinq étapes, qui foule sans oeillères un immense territoire d’univers et d’expériences musicales emmêlées, étiré entre, disons, Scelsi, Grisey et Messiaen, Charlemagne Palestine (Schlingen-Blängen) et This Heat, la noise music et l’ambient.” (Olivier Lamm, )

“Marhaug and Asheim create compositions of remarkable luminescence, from the slowly developing periods and seething intervals of “Bordunal” to the trhrobbing bass pedals and densely packed coils of industrial noise on “Philomela”…It’s in the chiming choral effects of “Clavaeolina” that the distance between cathedral organ and electronics starts to disappear entirely.” (Ken Hollings, The Wire)

“The short version: nothing short of a phenomenal recording! …It was an exceptional situation and they exploited that to the fullest. Listen to this record!! This will certainly top the list of 2007 for me.” John Smolders, earlabs

“The five pieces offer a memorable meeting of adventurous minds…A phenomenal recording.

“On sent presque transpirer l’excitation qu’ont dû éprouver les deux musiciens à enregistrer ces improvisations” Popnews

“Op die manier vertellen Asheim en Marhaug een verhaal van eindeloze resonantie, en van het zoeken naar muzikale harmonieën…” Hans van der Linden, KindaMusic

“For all its basic structure, Grand Mutation is a complex, powerful work that reveals new textures and facets on each listen. What seems like an odd proposition at first is instead a fascinating meeting that surpasses any expectations that may have been held (though who only knows what the expectations could have been). I only wish they would take this show on the road. I’m sure this would be the best way to get most of us up early and in a church on a Sunday morning” (Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed)

“There’s a diverse dynamic at play with Grand Mutation, that’s hard to pinpoint, but the fluidity that’s exhibited between Marhaug and Asheim with two entirely different engines of sound makes quite a statement about their finished product….and if these two never set foot in the same room again, Grand Mutation will undoubtedly serve as a well-put document of two masters at work. Highly recommended for fans of drone styled works.(The Slow Alarm)

“Throughout the remainder of the work, a fine cycle is established between these droning, trance-inducing environments and the more volatile passages, each giving effortlessly onto the other like day and night.(Max Schaefer, Cyclic Defrost Magazine)

Resultatet är överväldigande! Ett fysiskt väsen av fulländning på jämbördig fot med ett bokstavligt oväsen. Tillsammans träder de in på stigar i riktning mot saligheten… ”Grand Mutation” är en skiva jag verkligen rekommenderar. Det är en upplevelse utöver det vanliga.” Magnus Olsson, SoundofMusic

“…Marhaug manipulating and stretching the organs gloomy textures in the great ominous wells of grim sound, or great curtains of droning blood red sound that starts to boil and seethe with whistling noise craft at the edges…” (Roger Batty, Musique Machine)

“Noe av det mest slående er hvordan de to musikerne utfyller hverandre, og får moderne elektronikk til å naturlig mutere med det massive orgelet.” (Bjørn Hammershaug, Dagsavisen)

“only a label like touch records could put together an album of this dramatic quality and pure strangeness of sounds… Totally hypnotic stuff” (Road Records)

“Jeg har en intensjon om å dukke opp neste gang de spiller et sted i nærheten.” (Svein Egil Hatlevik, Morgenbladet)

Dusted Magazine: An interview with Lasse Marhaug and Nils Henrik Asheim

Album published by:
Touch (Touch Tone 30)
Related work(s):

Grand Mutation – with Lasse Marhaug