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.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon