Feb 26 2013
Mats Eilertsen Trio – “Sails Set”
Sails Set, the new release by bassist Mats Eilertsen is a fascinating glimpse into the creative well from which he pulls from. Most tracks are short, acting as de facto interludes for one another. They give little peeks into creative ideas without expressly illustrating the fullness of what those ideas might become. The songs pique curiosity, and it’s as if watching one vignette after the other or, perhaps, viewing waves of light through only one facet of a finely cut diamond.
Stronen’s percussion adds mystery, and without ever really raising its voice, he substantively moves the trio in abstract directions, keeping it from ever becoming just another Nordic Jazz recording. For the most part, his contributions on Sails Set would best be described as mercurial. On track “Orbiting,” unexpected bursts of percussion and unpredictable cadences are the only consistencies. And also on “The Lighthouse,” which whispers a melody over haunted graveyard percussion.
Fraanje meets Stronen half way about half the time. On “Stone and Sand” and “Music Box,” the two engage in a series of percussive entanglements, trading rhythms that, by themselves, would possess no particular meaning, but taken together, make for an intoxicating crosshatch of variable sounds. But on a tune like the title-track “Sails Set,” Fraanje creates a meditative serenity with an economy of well-placed notes that rest plumb against Stronen’s path.
On bass, Eilertsen sticks to two approaches, either working the tune from out front and in the upper registers or from burrowing beneath the melody to gain an earthy resonance. On “Lunar Light,” Eilertsen calls out on bass with both the patience and hypnotic sway of a forest creek while Stronen adds a little rhythmic shading at the edges. Whereas, on “Currents,” they switch roles, and Eilertsen keeps to the shadows while Stronen offers rhythmic concepts with furtive mannerisms.
An album that gives so much with so little and makes the ear crave just a little bit more. Not a bad way to leave the listener looking forward to what comes next.
Your album personnel: Mats Eilertsen (bass), Thomas Stronen (drums, percussion), and Harmen Fraanje (piano).
Released on the Hubro Music label.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Music from Eidsvoll Verk, Norway.
October 22, 2013 @ 4:41 am
How might this release compare to Elegy? You don’t make mention of the previous recording by these people. If I have Elegy, should I purchase Sails Set, too?
October 27, 2013 @ 8:23 pm
Oh, hey, I just saw your question. And it’s a good one.
Y’know, I’m gonna have to sit down and re-listen to the last couple Eilertsen’s just to be sure my memory synchs up with reality… but, if memory serves, I’d said Sails Set expresses melodies with a greater sense of refinement, and let’s the percussion explore possibilities with wider latitude.
I do know that Sails Set resonated with me much stronger than past Eilertsen recordings… which, as it so happens, is one of the best reasons to revisit past material. I’ll let you know what I think. Hell, maybe I’ll even write something up for the site.
I also know that Sails Set is a recording I keep coming back to, and after time away, I become addicted to it all over again with the first listen back. Take that for whatever you think it’s worth.
I hope your 2013 music year is still strong as we head into the homestretch.
October 27, 2013 @ 11:06 pm
Thanks for the reply. I need to listen to Mats Eilertsen’s Elegy again sometime soon, too. For me, 2013 has been a lean year for jazz. My teaching load hasn’t been the same lately because of declining enrollment; a few luxuries have been cut as a result. I also have been finding enjoyment in some older releases, such as Mik Beusen’s Blau, which I discovered on your website, by the way.
October 28, 2013 @ 1:11 am
Yeah, I remember Blau! I don’t listen to it as much as I used to, though that’s more a function of having so much to listen to than it is a measurement of my enjoyment of that release.
I’d have to check to be certain, but I vaguely recall that Blau was one of the first invites I sent out after becoming the AAJ download of the day editor. I could be misremembering that, but I don’t think so.
Good album, though. I was pretty into it for awhile.
October 27, 2013 @ 11:08 pm
I meant to say Mik Keusen. So sorry.