This record began in summer 2020, when I was staying at Andersabo, Sweden, where I run an artists' residency. I had access to a nearby church, and would set drones going on the organ while playing clarinet and piano. I started working with the combination of these long, sustained tones, combined with acoustic instruments, where the sound's duration was only as long as a breath or the pluck of a string.
A lot of the last Blue Lake LP was made using a series of zithers that I built myself. I have always been interested in layering sounds, and had in the past made music by recording several guitar parts and putting them together. The zithers allowed me to explore this kind of layered playing live, as both hands can be used simultaneously to create overlapping patterns. In the summer that I started recording Stikling, I built a much larger 48-string zither that expanded a lot of these possibilities and ended up featuring in a lot of the new music.
Each piece on Stikling began with some kind of drone - an organ tone or a frozen note on the cello. A particular phrase on piano or a series of clarinet chords would start to determine a structure, and the music grew over time, with parts being added, taken away, re-written, re-recorded.
The word “stikling” in Danish means a cutting taken from a plant that is then set in new soil. During the past two years, I’ve been working with gardening - planting, collecting seeds, and making cuttings. These processes often involve a mix of creation and destruction – growth goes hand in hand with removing old material and cutting things down. This kind of circularity fed into the music as it was being developed for the LP. After starting on the church organ in summer 2020, I finished by recording on the little pump organ at Andersabo in summer 2021. - Jason Dungan