F. E. Denning Descension Orchestra

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“F.E. Denning’s first orchestral release sees the 1987-born Copenhagen-based artist merge several of the city’s musical domains. A collaborative release between the previously cassette-only label Infinite Waves and shop/label Insula Music, the LP documents a 2011 performance, for which Denning assembled an orchestra of 11 people with a wide array of backgrounds.

The LP recording was carried out in the city’s esteemed functionalistic building Radiohuset, originally built in the 1930s to house the national broadcasting company and now home of the Royal Danish Academy of Music.

Although Denning here works with an orchestra and within a different realm than on his previous solo efforts, the focus once again seems to be a tension between “inner” and “outer”, a quest for understanding the scope of such divisions. And here the depiction of inner chaos is more vivid than in his prior works.

Though never clearly limited to one of the areas explored such as ambient, drone, noise, musique concrète and field recordings, Denning’s previous releases come off as distinctively different sounding works. “Descension Orchestra” somehow manages not only to combine these differences within one effort, but to do so while bringing in free jazz. Like on his previous efforts, traditions naturally play a crucial role here. The title itself is inspired by John Coltrane’s “Ascension”, and as expected “Descension Orchestra” deconstructs the piece and distances itself from it by looking down and in, instead of up and out. Both works are improvised, understandably making some sense of togetherness pivotal, but on “Descension Orchestra” this is without devotion to religion. The result is a more introverted cohesiveness revealing unrestrained human instincts. In a reference to Coltrane and “Ascension” “Descension Orchestra” takes off with a saxophone solo in a piece that differentiates itself from it’s counterpart by being more focused on electrical instruments with a setup that also includes two drummers, two bass players, three guitar players, a noise performer, a keyboard player, and Denning himself on piano.

“F.E. Denning Descension Orchestra” is an inwards-looking and destruction-laden LP revolving around the darker sides of togetherness, and situated in a grey area between free jazz, drone, noise and ambient, going back and forth between quietness and wall-of-noise moments, constantly ripe with tension.”