Stig Gustu Larsen started his professional career as the singer, guitarist and songwriter for the rock band “GUSTU” who toured Europe and Asia as well as releasing two successful EP’s, including the minor hit “Love/Hate Collide”. After eight years with the band Stig took on a solo career and released his first solo EP “Finding Home” in November 2014 which debuted at number 5 on the Norwegian iTunes charts. The title song also got airtime on radio stations across the globe. Since the release of the debut record, Stig has toured all over Norway and has been invited to play in New York, London and Amsterdam.
2016 sees the release of what Stig Gustu Larsen defines as his most personal record to date – the EP “Lifelines + Echoes”. “This record is not a concept record, but it is most definitely a theme based record,” says Stig, continuing: “Throughout the record the listener is taken for a walk around the city with the music as the thoughts or soundtrack of the night. The record is about losing someone and how to deal with it. It could be a falling out, break up or even death. For me this record is about specific persons in my life, and sadly some of them are not here today.”
The record was also recorded in an unconventional way. The songs were recorded in the living room, bathroom, garage, balcony and a rehearsal space in Oslo, rented by the hour. Stig also walked around the city, recording with a handheld recorder to capture the pulse of the city. With the exception of the bass on “Walk it off” (which was recorded by Grand Elk’s Jørund Hjeltnes Langdal), all the instruments and vocals on “Lifelines + Echoes” have been performed by Stig Gustu Larsen. This EP really surprised me in a very good way. There is so much diversity and wonderfully written and performed songs on it.
I was sold straight after hearing the opening track “City Of Ember”. The descending chord sequence in the verses, the crystal clear production, the sublime piano tones, the beat and the emotive vocals all hit the mark for me.
And by the time I heard the second track, “Come Home”, I knew I would love everything about this record. It sounds seamless and full of hard-hitting urgency that makes you want to take a drive and rehash your feelings, thoughts and emotions. I’m impressed with Stigs instrumentals, whether its guitar or piano-driven and his vocal deliveries.
The guitars are crunchy, dominant and have an existential punch; the pianos are sprawling and rolling in warmth, while Stig’s voice has great dynamics here. It can be soft one minute and then soaring at another.
The record is captivating and intimate. It’s almost as if Stig Gustu Larsen is singing to those who are longing for some stability and truth in all the chaos and complexity of loss that echoes throughout the record. And it doesn’t get more personal and emotional than “Lifeline”, in which Stig’s voice steps out of its comfort zone and soars well beyond.
For something even more soul cutting, lend your ears to the well-crafted, acoustic-guitar driven, melancholic nuances of “Next Year”. Stig’s singer-songwriter and pop-rock music, references a ton of different styles and eras, yet seems to be contemporary and original.
The final, jaw-dropping-spectacular, EP closer, “Walk It Off”, is yet another demonstration of the pure lack of pretention, the commitment to melody, and the observance of feel and mood which make this a staggeringly moving song filled with pain and anger.
Pensive, perceptive, intelligent, honest, and emotive, all these songs on “Lifelines + Echoes” resonate beautifully with Stigs’s rueful writing and his own fine musical backing. In a music industry where mindless pop clogs our charts, a sanguine singer-songwriter such as Stig Gustu Larsen is a breath of fresh air. That he will build momentum and popularity over time is inevitable.