The prolific Norwegian singer, songwriter and band leader Truls Heggero and his two bands Lukestar and Truls and the Trees get a thorough examination by Pitchforkmedia.
Heggero is the man behind two of the most intriguing Norwegian bands that have broken the surface of international recognition lately, namely Lukestar and Truls and the Trees.
Lukestar, the power-pop/indie-rock band that made their record debut back in 2004 with Alpine Unit, have been one of the most talked about acts in 2008, due to their acclaimed second outing Lake Toba. Astral and somewhat enigmatic, Lukestar’s music stands out in the densities of their genre. Lake Toba was released in Norway in January, Japan in March and will be out in Europe and the US in September and October respectively.
Pitchfork’s Stephen M Deusner writes of Lukestar and Lake Toba:
( ) a solid collection of pulsing indie-rock songs with half-shouted hooks and guitars unwinding like fractal art. Opener "White Shade" and "The Shade You Hide" are Wrensy frenzies of manic guitars propelled by drummer Jørgen Smådal Larsen's tricky rhythms and imaginative fills. "The Clouds Tell" offers a floating-in-space interlude before the band blast off again on the zig-zagging "In a Hologram". Still, the album winds down as it proceeds: Lukestar can't maintain that creative intensity, letting the hooks soften and the arrangements lose some of their purposefulness.
Another view on Lukestar from InSound.com:
Lukestar’s pop sound is an otherworldly one; seemingly taking as much inspiration from Mediaeval mythical creatures as they do from power-math-rock. Riffs and fairies never sounded so good together as they do here. (Recommended track of the week Nov 9th 2007.)
Check out Lukestar here:
Truls and the Trees is Heggero’s loosely knit musical collective that voices the more earthly, acoustic and whimsical sides of his creative mind. The collective’s debut came last fall with “Ailanthus”; received in Norway as the most exciting new indie-pop in years.
Conceptually, Truls & the Trees works as a rustic flipside-project to Lukestar: Instead of a firm five-piece, it's a loosely defined collective ranging from six to sixteen members, depending on the time and place. To call the group an earthy counterpart doesn't mean the Trees are strictly acoustic or folksy, just less streamlined and more grounded. They even open their debut, Ailanthus (named for the fast-growing deciduous often referred to as the "tree of heaven"), with "Aim Vs. Signal", a full minute of squiggling synths. Similarly, these songs squirm away from expectations. Dag Stiberg's saxophone opens up the halting "Mystaxxx", making its dreamy atmospherics sound all the richer as drummer Larsen taps out Morse code rhythms on his snare rim, and "Count Your Steps" and the title track both race impatiently, doing somersaults as they run downhill. Stand-out "Upside Journey" sports an emphatic hook and a barreling momentum, then crashes into a Dexy's Midnight Runners breakdown on the coda. The one real joykill is closer "Topquark Journey to the Center of the Universe", which revisits "Upside Journey" but in a stiffly electronic style that ends the album on an uncharacteristically humdrum note. Still, while Lukestar's rock-band format necessarily limits their range, Truls & the Trees aren't quite a rock band or quite anything else, and with that unsettledness comes the freedom to do anything they want.
Listen to Truls and the Trees here: