Sep 4 2014
Gorgeous studio debut from the Dutch quartet Estafest. Eno Supo is an alluring mix of Nordic jazz, folk-rock, and chamber music. The bustling activity of the latter qualities provides the serenity of the former a liveliness that prevents languorous music from ever becoming sleepy. Their debut album, a live performance recording, had plenty of enjoyable moments, but it lacked the focus and cohesion of their newest. With each of the quartet members contributing at least one composition to the affair, Eno Supo establishes a set list of ingredients, with altering the ratios to taste the only consideration for change.
With some tracks, like “Papillon” and title-track “Eno Supo,” the melodies are short, to the point, and crafted with a loving care. The title-track opens the album with an immediate display of that approach. On bass clarinet, Mete Erker constructs a mesmerizing and compact melody for the introduction, and it retains both qualities as the quartet rides that melody through a number of twists and turns, changing speeds at will. “Papillon,” too, opens with a brief, beautiful melodic phrase, but lets it slowly unwind. The song takes a turn at the midway point, unfolding into languorous viola solo. Oene van Geel takes a winding path on viola that leads right back to the front door of the melody for a peaceful conclusion.
Tracks like “Chime,” “Motief,” “Etaples,” and “Etaples 2” possess an uneasy serenity and an ominous tone reminiscent of Bill Frisell works like History, Mystery. There is a seeming contradiction to these tunes, of a formless structure that nonetheless maintains a cohesive propulsion… a sort of togetherness-by-agreement as opposed to actual bonds. It results in a most appealing tension.
A couple tracks threaten to break the mold. “T.C. 2” is up-tempo and urgent, especially when held in comparison to the other album tracks. Guitarist Anton Goudsmit comes alive, spreading heat with a laser-beam precision, and slashing through the melody with an extended solo. And “E” opens with a huge outburst, the closest thing to dissonance on the recording. Saxophone and viola shriek, piano stomps. and then the floor drops out and the quartet just floats with the most delicate serenity. Erker’s soprano sax is light as a feather and the piano of Jeroen van Vliet is the last of the falling rain at storm’s end. The contrast between the first half of the song and its second brings the beauty of the serenity into even greater focus and clarity.
The sing-songy “81%” brings a bit of joviality to the affair, with tiny celebratory surges of melodicism and passages of a tight harmonic confluence… it’s an interlude of bubbly euphoria in the midst of introspective music.
The album ends much like it began, with the calm “No Farewell,” a song that creates a supreme beauty with the simplest of statements.
An absolutely gorgeous album with a striking personality.
Your album personnel: Oene van Geel (viola, cajon), Mete Erker (bass clarinet, soprano & tenor saxes), Jeroen van Vliet (piano), and Anton Goudsmit (guitar).
Released on Challenge Records.
Jazz from the Netherlands.
And here’s a LINK to a live video I posted to this site months ago, as part of the These are videos that I like series. It’s of Estafest performing the song “Papillon” live at the Bimhuis. Beautiful stuff.