Oct 7 2014
Peter Rosendal is one of those composers that inspires a kaleidoscopic explosion of thoughts, emotions, inspirations and epiphanies. He creates music that hits both head and heart and he achieves this with methods both complex and unconventional. His sound is very difficult to describe yet rings with an abounding clarity. It is music that should be filed under Something Different and it is music that is as embraceable as a pop song. He has been at it for years, and his 2014 release Love for Snail might be his best yet.
Your album personnel: Peter Rosendal (piano, Wurlitzer, melodica, flugabone), Kristian Jørgensen (violin), Peter Fuglsang (bass clarinet, clarinet), Peter Jensen (trombone), Jeppe Gram (drums) and Kaspar Vadsholt (fretless bass).
To pull this off, he continues his collaboration with his Old Man’s Kitchen ensemble, an outfit consisting of keys, strings, reeds, brass and percussion. The strangeness from the unusual partnership of instruments is compounded by the fact that none of the musicians play them straight. Unusual melodic diversions, harmonic passages that possess intriguingly frayed ends, and rhythms that are better measured by their flow velocity than the timing of their beats.
Opening track “Let the Bubbles Bubble” is a strategic game of pop-goes-the-weasel with its mix of a whimsical melody and punctuated stutters of rhythm. Bassist Kaspar Vadsholt establishes the right of way and the ensemble falls in line and adopts a motion parallel to his own.
The moody “Night Potier,” with the low moans of Peter Jensen‘s trombone and Rosendal’s piano spurring them on. The ensemble grows more effusive, not quite so dark, and it’s the melody they use to scale up and down that emotional wall.
The jaunty “Vindhex” has a cheerful tone and a melody like a wry smile. Rosendal sets down a nifty groove on Wurlitzer and Peter Fuglsang achieves liftoff on clarinet.
It leads, almost startlingly, into the trim elegance of “Velkommen Til Danmark.” Piano sketches out a melody for Fuglsang and Kristian Jørgensen to spring from on clarinet and violin. Trombone’s harmonic embrace is an infusion of warmth that clinches the song’s fullness.
This leads into the boisterous party-time of “Flinke Mennesker Hverken Ham Eller Hende,” a song with the heart of traditional New Orleans and the eyes of contemporary classical. Squiggles of sound that move with the motion of dance, nuances and details that perpetually unfold with the flawless precision of origami. It’s also an opportunity for drummer Jeppe Gram to go to town and have a ball.
The Hungarian influence of “Loup Garou” gifts the song a bouncing motion and a happy sound, and even when it goes stark white with only piano on the move, it left an impression so indelible that the ensemble has no difficulty picking things up right where they left off after the break.
Title track “Love for Snail” moves slightly away from its ensemble nature to allow plenty of space for each musician to get in a solo. The especially nice part of this turn of events is that individual instruments are heard to interact with only one or two other instruments and outside from how they typically fit into the greater whole. Not only does it provide some sharp compare and contrast moments between pairs and trios of soloists and primary accompaniment, but also with a constantly changing source of influence, from straight-ahead jazz to modern classical to pop music to avant-folk. It’s revelatory in the way it shows that the whole of the ensemble is more than just the sum of its individual parts… that there are dynamic exchanges that fall in between both extremes, individual and ensemble, and the ways in which they interact with one another are exciting variables for the composer and artists, both, to manipulate and play with as the ultimate design of the music unfolds.
The album ends with the herky-jerky motion of “Først Til Mølle,” a song that goes from a spasmodic tempo to one that takes long, slow strides to one of random scattering. It’s the kind of playfulness and glorification of nuance and detail that Love for Snail is rife with, an attitude that a serious approach can be taken to fun music and that complexity need not preclude a genuine approachability.
Released on Stunt Records.
Music from Denmark.