Nov 27 2016
Recommended: Geir Sundstol – “Langen ro”
There is nothing ordinary about the music of Geir Sundstøl. Not his dreamlike compositions. Not his singular expressionism on pedal steel. His choice of instrumentation is anything but conventional, and when he needs something unavailable, he sits down and invents it from scratch out of sheer imagination. Some of this talent is due to his vast experience in a diverse array of projects. Some of it is due to a creative drive that clearly has no concept of obstacles or boundaries. His newest album Langen ro benefits from all of that, and it’s why it’s one of the most enchanting albums to come out all this year.
All the compositions are originals, aside from two. Sundstøl gives the funhouse mirror treatment to the melody of folk tune “Gråtarslaget” and, at the other end of the pop culture spectrum, a rendition of “Tony’s Theme” that is more laid-back than the title-character of Scarface ever conceived of being.
At its core, Sundstøl has a trio of himself, keyboardist David Wallumrød and percussionist Erland Dahlen with a number of guests. But really, this album is about piecing together any personnel and instrumentation required to fill out Sundstøl’s unique imagery of jazz improvisation, Nordic folk, ambient minimalism and chamber music. There is no core, really. It’s about imagery and the vision it sources from. The music is mesmerizing, not catchy, experiential, not immemorial. It’s music to be lived in the moment and only in the moment, but Sundstøl, thankfully, makes that moment last a very long time.
This is a seriously captivating album.
Your album personnel: Geir Sundstøl (pedal steel, six string bass, banjo, xylophone, bass drum, cymbal, harmonica, cümbüs ̧ National Duolian, Shankar guitar, 5-string banjo, Moog MiniTaur, log drum, maraccas, pump organ, pianochordia, concert harp, marxophone, tubular bells), David Wallumrød (piano, Wurlitzer, Clavinet D6, Prophet 5, whistling), Erland Dahlen (blossombells, snare drum, metal plate, marching toms, xylophone, mini xylophone, musical saw, bass drum, Schulmerich handbells, finger cymbal, metal spring, frame drums, steel drum, lego case, whistling) and guests: Nikolai Eilertsen (bass), Martin Langlie (drums, percussion, processed percussion, modular synth), Erik Sollid (violin) and Martin Winstad (bass drum, timpani, cymbals, triangle, log drum, shekere, satellite bell, woodblocks, cowbells).
Released on Hubro Music.
Listen to another album track at the label’s Soundcloud page.
Music from the Oslo, Norway scene.
Dec 9 2016
Recommended: Christian Wallumrod Ensemble – “Kurzsam and Fulger”
On ECM, the music of Christian Wallumrød was a modern classical built to scoop jazz up into its embrace. It was rich with textures, alternating expressions of wry subtlety and diffuse imagery, and it always carried with it the promise of unconventional presentation. So it’s been extremely gratifying to hear a stripped down version of his creativity since joining the Hubro Music label.
Wallumrød’s debut on Hubro was the lovely Pianokammer, a solo set of tunes that kept to the quiet side of things, and where every note was sublime. There was an intimacy to the recording, a simple route to connecting with it, whereas on ECM, the beauty seemed to prefer being observed from a distance.
His newest, Kurzsam and Fulger, has Wallumrød expanding to a quintet formation, and yet, the music is still stripped down and full of intrigue. With small doses of wind instruments, cello and percussion added to the mix, the result allows Wallumrød to reveal more of the connections between the complexities of his music and the simple melodies that lie at their heart.
The best example of this is “Langsam,” a composition where Wallumrød utilizes his technique of interspersing bursts of harmony with sparse passages where he throws out hints of melodic inspirations and the curious chatter of percussion. But here and now, the music has an immediacy that wasn’t necessarily present before, and always feels within reach. Just as intriguing is the supremely tuneful “Haksong,” a jaunty piece with a carefree demeanor that’s almost jarring in the context of the nuance and modulated intensity that marks so much of Wallumrød’s recorded history. Of equal interest is that the composition also made an appearance on his solo album Pianokammer, and hearing how he originally expressed it with a heart full of melancholy and introspection makes the compare and contrast to his newest rendition that much more astonishing.
Some of the album tracks could almost be relegated to the status of “interlude” were it not for the fact that these kinds of passages are not uncommon in a Wallumrød work. But to hear them stripped down and offering an economy of expressionism is more than a little fascinating in the grand scheme of things. Wallumrød has previously displayed a talent for using silence to bolster his pieces with contemplation and intensity, and quite a bit of his past was creating music that was the perfect fit for quiet moments spent in quiet rooms. But his new direction is one where he is having simpler conversations with a rich vocabulary, and the immediacy of the dialog is like that of shooting the breeze with an old friend.
Just a wonderful recording.
Your album personnel: Christian Wallumrød (piano, harmonium), Eivind Lønning (trumpet), Espen Reinertsen (saxophone), Tove Törngren (cello) and Per Oddvar Johansen (drums, vibraphone).
Released on Hubro Music.
Listen to another album at the label’s Soundcloud page.
Available at: Amazon | eMusic
And be sure to check out Wallumrød’s Pianokammer, too, as it’s an album that I continue to enjoy and continue to enthusiastically recommend.
Read more (LINK).
By davesumner • Featured, Jazz Recommendations, Jazz Recommendations - 2016 releases • 0 • Tags: Christian Wallumrod, Hubro Music