Kim Myhr is a Norwegian guitarist, improviser and composer. Since 2009 he has recorded numerous collaborative albums, most frequently in various configurations with the Australian musician Jim Denley, but “All Your Limbs Singing” is his first solo album. The only instrument on the release is Myhr’s 12-string acoustic guitar, which he plays live, with no overdubs; likewise, each of the six tracks revolves around a single idea, sometimes just a single chord, with variation coming by means of subtle shifts in technique, momentum, and timing. Small though these changes may be, they produce a wide and vivid spectrum of timbres, rhythms, resonances, and harmonics.
In opening piece “Weaving Into Choir”, a driving strummed rhythm carries a complex and harmonically dense cloud that continuously evolves through a range of shapes; sounds normally considered extraneous, such as the scraping of Myhr’s plectrum or his hand hitting the body of the guitar, become equally important factors in this evolution. “Descent” and “Harbor Me” use short melodic phrases repeated to hypnotic effect, in which little ‘skips’ in the performance of the loop — letting a descending phrase tumble down a little further, or extending an A-B pattern by inserting extra As or Bs — are key to the hypnosis. The piece perhaps most consonant with the blue sky and palm trees on the cover is the deliciously languid “Blinky”, a thousand constellations unfurling from a single repeated chord.
This is non-hierarchical music, in the sense that every tone, timbre and rhythmic element participates fully and equally in the sound — from this point of view the album’s title seems particularly appropriate. While each piece seems on the surface to employ a familiar and straightforward approach to harmony, melody, and performance technique, the way they develop seems akin to opening up a paper fan to reveal the dazzling designs inside. By holding some elements steady and continuously varying others, Myhr leads listeners through a kaleidoscopic music that is immediately engaging, and remains so indefinitely. One thinks of watching clouds rolling by, or landscapes passing by the window of a train: simple, direct, and utterly absorbing.