May 6 2016
The heart of this album is a soft patter, a beat that registers as barely above a murmur, and it’s how drummer Per Oddvar Johansen is able to repeatedly transform that tiny sound into expressions that resonate with remarkable strength that speaks to the winning formula of Let’s Dance. On the title-track, the piano phrasings of Helge Lien radiate a powerful grace, each note dripping with the gravity of heavy emotions spoken with composure and care, so that even when Johansen sends out flurries of rhythm to batter against the thick melodic strains of Torben Snekkestad’s saxophone, the song’s core holds strong.
This trend continues on a track like “Forest Flower,” with its striking dissonance whispered softly as if into a conspirator’s ear. The dissonance of this track leads into the blossoming loveliness of “Flying” and blurs the lines between songs as well as those between the furtive, labored efforts of starting up and the breathless freedom of liftoff.
The nuanced beauty of this album, thankfully, isn’t shielded from view by the more dramatic statements etched into the surface of the recording. Johansen utilizes an array of stringed and percussion instruments, sometimes with the lightest touch of electronics and violin as on “Flying” and sometimes shining bright as a new day sun as on “Uluru” with guitars and wood block percussion.
This is officially Johansen’s debut album, but a perusal of this site will see his name appear in a number of recommended albums, including those by Tore Brunborg, Mette Henriette, Christian Wallumrod and Adam Baldych… which goes a long to explaining why a debut album achieves a fullness and focus typically not seen until after a handful of projects see the light of day.
Let’s Dance is just a gorgeous album that, impressively and confidently, finds a number of different ways to express it.
Your album personnel: Per Oddvar Johansen (drums, violins, vibraphone, guitars, wood percussion, electronics), Helge Lien (piano) and Torben Snekkestad (saxophones, reed trumpet).
Released on Edition Records.
Listen to more of the album at the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Jazz from the Oslo, Norway scene.