Sep 9 2013
Einar Scheving – “Land Mins Fodur (The Land Of My Father)”
On his 2011 release Land Mins Fodur (The Land Of My Father), drummer Einar Scheving seeks to honor not just his departed father, but all the Icelander’s who came before him in making his home country what it was. It’s a concept of great scope… one fraught with the risk of rambling incohesion and an insubstantial identity. Howver, Scheving deftly overcomes those risks by focusing his vision through a lens of poetry, folkloric imagery, and Icelandic song.
The end result is an album of striking icy beauty and a home fire warmth.
Your album personnel: Einar Scheving (drums), Eyþór Gunnarsson (piano, Fender Rhodes), Óskar Guðjónsson (tenor sax), Skúli Sverrisson (acoustic & electric bass), Guðmundur Pétursson (lap steel guitar, dobro, electric & acoustic guitars), Davíð Þór Jónsson (Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, piano), and guest vocalists: Kristján Kristjánsson, Ragnar Bjarnason, Ragnheiður Gröndal, Sigurður Guðmundsson, Egill Ólafsson, and Sigríður Thorlacius.
The album opens with “Nu Vil Eg Enn I Nafni Thinu,” an Icelandic hymn with an enthralling sway. The refracted notes of Pétursson’s lap steel guitar match perfectly with Guðjónsson’s languid saxophone lines, while Gunnarsson’s skittering piano contribution balances the sleepy ambiance with engaging flairs and asides.
Second track “Land Mins Fodur / Haettu Ad Grata Hringana” continues the use of Icelandic folk songs as the basis for Scheving’s performance. Combining two songs into one composition, the music’s lullaby demeanor is further emboldened with electric guitar shadowing saxophone’s patient expressions of melody.
About half of the album tracks include guest vocalists singing Icelandic poems as accompaniment. A ballad with a grim pragmatism, “Sorgardans” speaks of lost love and sorrow. And on “Afturhvarf,” the despairing words of poet Steinn Steinarr are delivered with a sardonic tone reminiscent of Tom Waits, with piano’s effusive accompaniment the kind of muted cheery blues that just such a song requires.
And though the album never retreats from its general state of serenity, some tracks drive up the heart rate a notch. The rhythmic groundwork set by Scheving and Sverrisson on percussion and bass provide the other musician’s the platform from which to launch “Maistjarnan” into higher elevations. And then there’s the Icelandic rhyme dances of “Dyravisur.” where the combination of Scheving’s rushing-tide brushwork, Sverrisson’s pronounced leaps on bass, and the shuffling steps of Guðjónsson’s saxophone incite the noble elegance of a waltz and the congenial informality of a night amongst friends.
The mix of different variations guitars and keys bring further texture to this subtly detailed recording. Jónsson’s organ on “Draumalandid (Dreamland)” provides a soulful ambiance to Icelandic composer Sigfus Einarsson’s dedication to the Summers of his home country. And on album-closer “Mamma Aetlar Ad Sofna,” Pétursson’s lap steel gives vocalist Sigríður Thorlacius’s airy recitation of Davíð Stefánsson’s poem a shimmering presence, as if sunlight dancing on the surface of an undisturbed lake.
Just a beautiful albums, and one of the best that 2011 had to offer.
Released in 2011, this album is Self-Produced.
Jazz from the Reykjavík, Iceland scene.
Available at eMusic MP3 | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3
Some Additional Notes:
The CD of the album is very nicely presented. Lots of great photos and detailed liner notes. I know the price difference between CD and digital can be substantial at times, but between the quality packaging and the way the music sounds when not compressed in MP3 format might make it worth it for you. I’ll actually be showing more of the CD itself in an upcoming new Bird is the Worm series… For the Love of CDs, in which I obsess over great CD (and LP) packaging, showing plenty of pictures and whatever else floats my boat. Stay tuned.
Also, I previously reviewed Scheving’s 2008 release Cycles. You can read that review HERE. I still listen to that album on occasion, and find it no less enjoyable with the passing of time. Still comes highly recommended by yours truly.
Jan 6 2014
Recommended: Bryan & the Aardvarks – “Heroes of Make Believe”
Bryan Copeland‘s opus, four years in the making, documents his time in New York, expressed as a series of lullabies, preludes to dreams… those that symbolize our ideals and goals, but also the kind that manifest in a state of peaceful sleep. Heroes of Make Believe, performed by his quartet Bryan & the Aardvarks, finds a middle ground between modern jazz and a strain of indie-pop that builds big worlds in the tiny ambient secluded corners of the music universe.
What this means is that these are songs that are melodically diffuse, and their reflection off thick sheets of harmonies and susurrous rhythms shines as brilliantly as the prettiest stars in the sky.
A third of the tracks are improvised, which only serves to further emphasize the strength of the connection between the quartet members, because there is very little to differentiate those tunes from those built on compositions. They are all plugged in to the same creative vision. A song like “When Night Falls” has the same drifting rhythms and shimmering melodic beauty as the gentle ballad “Soft Starry Night.”
Fabian Almazan is adept at utilizing three sets of keys to great use. “These Little Hours” has Alamazan piping warm notes on synths up into the air, buffeted up by Dingman’s vibes. Adding some piano, Almazan gives definition to bright sounds. “Where the Wind Blows” features Almazan’s piano lifting the song up to higher elevations. And “Still I Dream” features Almazan’s skittering lines on Fender Rhodes.
Chris Dingman’s work on vibes is the most evident contributor to the music’s dreamy presence. On “Sunshine Through the Clouds,” vibes twinkle like stars, while Copeland’s bass arco is as thick as moonlight dense enough to be grasped. Copeland utilizes the arco to strong effect, also, on “Today Means Everything,” balancing a jaunty cadence with some well-placed moodiness.
Almazan’s synths add a bit of dramatic flourish to songs like “When Night Falls” and “Still I Dream,” a harmonic clarion call that makes it sound like the song is coming apart at the seams, unable to contain all that harmonic beauty. Dingman walks right down the center of this harmonic mist with patiently expressed notes, as if outlining the area in space where the melody exists, and creating a path for the listener to follow along.
There are a handful of interludes spread throughout the album. These represent most of the improvisational aspect to this album, and it appears to be small clips of those conversations, added as brief harmonic transitions between songs. By themselves, they wouldn’t be particularly special, but as part of the album’s thematic flow, they provide a boost of heady substance, harmonic washes that serve to enhance the subsequent melodies, and provide them a bit of gravitas.
The album ends with the lively “I’d Be Lost,” which kicks up some dust in between grand statements. Dingman and Almazan both fire off some impressive lines, but it’s Joe Nero’s easy-going approach to tempo that provides the song with its eminently enticing nature, featuring the contrast between speedy deliveries and a casual stroll.
It’s a pleasantly lively send-off for an album that spends most of its time drifting along, and it accentuates the music’s delicate beauty by displaying some toughness.
A genuinely beautiful album. The kind that is so easy to let play over and over again.
Your album personnel: Bryan Copeland (bass), Fabian Almazan (Fender Rhodes, piano, synth), Chris Dingman (vibes, glockenspiel), and Joe Nero (drums).
This Self-Produced album was released in 2011.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Jazz from NYC.
Available at: Bandcamp | CDBaby Digital | eMusic | Amazon MP3
By davesumner • Jazz Recommendations, Jazz Recommendations - 2011 Releases, Recap: Best of 2011 • 0