Helena Espvall | nimis & arx

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Rock: Psychedelic Jazz: Free Jazz Moods: Type: Experimental
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nimis & arx

by Helena Espvall

The debut solo release from Helena Espvall, cellist of folk-psych band Espers. With production and electronics provided by sonic maverick George Korein of Infidel?/Castro., Nimis & Arx is a recording of translucid wonder.
Genre: Rock: Psychedelic
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. idioblast
1:31 $0.99
2. kretslopp av blod och stjarnor
1:25 $0.99
3. nimis & arx
7:42 $0.99
4. certainty of the neverseen
3:57 $0.99
5. multiplication broken and restored I
2:42 $0.99
6. tidepools
2:42 $0.99
7. the straight line leads to hell
6:02 $0.99
8. mar amarga
2:16 $0.99
9. purgatory chasm
7:04 $0.99
10. multiplication broken and restored II
2:00 $0.99
11. vortex
6:28 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
A split release with Fire Museum Records.

The debut solo release from Helena Espvall, cellist of Espers. Her past and present collaborators include such diverse figures as Fursaxa, Oluyemi Thomas, Sharron Kraus, From Quagmire, Lukas Ligeti, Samara Lubelski, Eugene Chadbourne, Pauline Oliveros, Scorces, Katt Hernandez and many others.

With production and electronics provided by sonic maverick
George Korein of Infidel?/Castro!, "Nimis & Arx" is a recording of translucid wonder. Utilizing cello, guitar, recorder, voice and electronics, Espvall has delivered a CD which touches on aspects of all the multi-faceted elements of her musical journey to date while creating a vocabulary in a voice which is uniquely hers.


Having played guitar and cello in several rock bands (as well as performing in a silent movie orchestra, an Arabian Music ensemble and free improvised music), Swedish-born multi-instrumentalist Helena Espvall moved to Philadelphia in the year 2000. Besides performing with Espers, Helena performs with the Amnesiac Music & Dance ensemble and collaborates with many others in the psychedelic folk and free improvisation world.

Helena has performed several times at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival,twice at the High Zero Festival of improvised music in Baltimore, at the Improvised and Otherwise Festival in Brooklyn, at the Big Sur experimental festival in California and at Terrastock 2006 in Providence, RI among others.


Espers II by Espers (drag city 310) 2006
Weed Tree by Espers (locust 73) 2005
Habitats In The Wound by From Quagmire (vhf 88) 2005
Before The Beginning by Oluyemi Thomas (recorded 011) 2003

"In the depth of a swelling seashell, hear the voice of ancient Rose Gala. The current here is very numb, not calm but a very quiet subsequence. We meet there again and again throughout this Espvall's kindle. Far over sombrous Zoroastrian mount how you recognize your limen to get back there? Now listen."

Masaki Batoh / Ghost 12 June 2006 Tokyo



to write a review

DaveX, Startling Moniker

a wonderful antidote to musings that you’ve "heard it all."
Like it’s twin sculptural namesakes, Helena Espvall's split label (Pax Recordings and Fire Museum Records will share the tab) release "Nimis & Arx", is an improbable construction. Cellist Espvall, who I happily find out of Espers acid-folk mode; is joined by George Korein, an electronic agitator with a healthy interest in trilobites.

That's not to say you should be surprised. Between these two, there are more than enough disperate projects, obscure references, and oddball influences to scare a team of resume coaches to death. Espvall, a Swedish transplant to Philadelphia; is a member of Espers, and has played or collaborated with Fursaxa, Pauline Oliveros, Eugene Chadbourne, and an Arabian music ensemble. Korein, who previously released a solo trilobite-inspired album with collaborations from Kayo Dot and Stinking Lizaveta members, has also been called out in interviews as a heading the “WTF is going on” genre for his part in Infidel?/Castro!

From the moment this disc starts, you know its going to be a lot of fun to listen to. "Idioblast" opens the album with overdriven cello. It sounds like Espvall is threshing winter wheat on the strings, while Korein opens up a distorted peephole on Candyland. Its a fleeting experience, though– both this and the next, more finely-wrought track, clock in at little over a minute each. Thankfully, the title track "Nimis & Arx" gets more room to develop. On an uncomfortable bed of pops, metallic explosions, and carillion thunder; Espvall layers recorder (and possible vocals) in loon-like warbles. Prepared guitar sounds, washes of shimmering chimes, and something that sounds like electronically-processed popcorn round out the trip.

However jumbled this may appear to be in writing, it works very well on "Nimis & Arx." Espvall and Korein are in control of their sounds at all times, it would be too modest to suggest “happy accidents” at work here. An album such as this is not only an interesting listen on its own, but also a wonderful antidote to musings that you’ve "heard it all."


A rewarding album!
Helena Espvall currently plays with acid folkrock band Espers, but she also played with free/acidfolk artists like Fursaxa and Samara Lubelski as well as with the Vashti Bunyan tour band. On this release, she has her own visions explored on the cello. Most of all this is based upon improvisations on the cello itself, pure and direct, but also through exploring challenging new tonal interactions on the cello, on the edge of tonal colours it is able to produce. This is combined with layers of more sound explorations and harmonies, produced by manipulated sounds (from the cello mostly) and tiny bits of electronica, by George Korein, and with additional touches on recorder,… Helena also adds several sections of harmony explorations in different tonal harmonies on amplified guitar. The music is free music searching its way, not in an organic way, as leaving it to evolve itself its own way, but more consciously stirring, guided by inner pulses, like a swollen lava finding its way, like moles in the ground, or even better described, as with movements like rhythmic ‘sound animals’, or consciously finding a way in and out whatever comes across…and this from the bass earth ground sounds, to more spatial cricks and noises. On track 10 for instance, the manipulated high notes of stringed vibrations sound like an orchestra on its own/ “Mar Amarga” is the only section with vocals, with semi-eastern sounds on the guitar, and with a soprano voice improvisation on top, just slightly exploring the same edge of experimenting with tonal variations, but also based in a very spontaneously inspired way on an idea of eastern music. Last track concludes with overloads of changed time schedules in the sound manipulations’ basics. A rewarding album. LImited to 500 copies.

Mike Wood, Foxy Digitalis

rich relationship to sound and gesture, making for a smart, evocative release.
The debut solo release from Swedish cellist and guitarist Helena Espvall, currently also in folk-psych band Espers. She’s already covered a wide range of music in her career, having played rock as well as experimental composition, working with the likes of Pauline Olivieros and Eugene Chadbourne. She has even acted in a silent film. In each of these genres, she has held her own, and made a significant contribution, gaining the ability to use all her experiences in her own playing and writing. All of which is to say that she has a fairly deep and rich relationship to sound and gesture, making for a smart, evocative release.

Her cello is deep and sharp, particularly on “Multiplication Broken and Restored,” parts 1 &2, which are mini-masterpieces of restraint and generous emotion. Similarly, “The Straight Line Leads to Hell” is equally gorgeous and passionate. As with “Tidepools”, the title track mixes experimentation with the classic, and draws power from both sides of her expertise, and shows a maturity and vision that will only grow. Her solo career seems ready to blossom in many incredible directions.- Mike Wood

Guy Montag, KFJC On-Line Reviews

ethereal alter realities both foreign & stunning!
Laborious avant classical sawing cello action slits the throat. The spirit escapes through the slash wound to gather its surroundings. Faintly whispering strings moan & mourn. Moving forward beyond death’s door finds us hovering through ethereal alter realities both foreign & stunning. Serene Central Asian recorder glides smoothly over plink & pluck harp tones and deeply chilling audio manipulations. Venial violoncello sins are cleansed and pronounced purgatorial sounds flicker down vaulted marble corridors. Lamenting liturgical litanies grieve out from Espvall’s inspired instruments. Her angelic voice sobs softly, frustrated and torn over death’s bittersweet invitation into the afterworld. Rather than embrace Heaven or take the straight line leading to Hell, her tormented ghost climbs from the crypt, clinging to an empirical realm where she wails woeful cello psalms and semi-disturbing haunted hymns. This might just creep you out as well as offer strange comfort. 3WR: Devotion Through Damnation.

Aquarius Records review

beautiful, difficult, tense and transcendent
For those of you, like us, who may only know the Swedish cellist Helena Espvall from her work with the recent crop of neo-psych folk artists like Espers, Fursaxa, and Samara Lubelski, as well as being a member of Vashti Bunyan's touring band, you may be surprised, like we were, at the avant-garde leanings on her solo debut Nimis & Arx. However, after learning that Espvall has played with numerous free improv, dance and theater groups as well as with 20th century avant luminaries Pauline Oliveros and Eugene Chadbourne, we shouldn't really be surprised at all. With production and electronics provided by George Korein of Infidel?/Castro!, Nimis & Arx is a free improv maelstrom of cello, recorder, guitar and voice that is equal parts beautiful, difficult, tense and transcendent. Even the late, great Arthur Russell had not dragged his cello this far out into uncharted waters and that's saying something!