on electric, a compilation of recordings by arne nordheim ‎issued by rune grammofon

Arne Nordheim – Electric (1998 / 2017)

Note: This is a slightly modified and expended review, originally published by SoundOhm

Arne Nordheim is among Norway’s most important post-war composers, particularly among those working within the field of avant-garde electronic music. While not widely known outside of his own country, or beyond those circles of fans devoted to this music, for nearly three quarters of century he been laboring, sculpting a singular body of work. Originally released by Rune Grammofon in 1998 on CD, the label continues their dedication to shedding light on Norway’s often neglected efforts in avant-garde and experiential music, with a long awaited vinyl reissue of their compilation Electric, comprised of works by Nordheim from 1968 and 1970. For those who missed it the first time around, it’s bound to be nothing short of a revelation.

Nordheim studied studied Musique concrète in Paris during the mid 1950’s, expanding his practice in Holland toward electronics and synthesis toward the end of that decade. Upon returning home, he embarked on the construction of stunning body of work, a practice which stretched over the coming decades. The composer’s works in these fields are a marvel – standing with the best of their era, finding a great deal of common ground with contemporary gestures emerging from Groupe de Recherches Musicales, and others from across the globe. His work is a largely overlooked link, shedding light on Scandinavia’s place in the network of conversations, joined in creative utopian idealism, between artists engaged with electronic process during this period.

Electric represents the radical heights of musical Modernism, where technology met creative genius – grounded in, and mirroring, the sounds and structures of everyday life and beyond. It is the musicality of an industrialized modern world, filtered through a singular mind. A brilliant landscape of texture, ambience, and structural interplay, Electric gathers many of Nordheim’s most iconic works. Solitaire, Pace, Warszawa, and Colorazione are drawn for from the artists two hard to find solo LPs from this era, and presented Polypoly for the first time in recorded form.

Met with resounding critical praise when it was released on CD in 1998, this edition is the first to appear vinyl. Stunning in every way, Nordheim coaxes immersive worlds into focus, each laden with surprise. A seminal entry in the contemporary  reappraisal of historic avant-garde practice, Electric is unquestionably among the most important releases to come to light this year. Beautifully packaged limited edition of 500 copies, presented with the love for which Rune Grammofon has become known. You can check it out below, and pick it up from SoundOhm, the label, or a record store near you.

-Bradford Bailey


Arne Nordheim – Electric (1998 / 2017)










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