Aug 21 2012
Blommor Inomhus – “Blommor Inomhus”
It was pretty much love at first sight.
Blommor Inomhus is a Swedish trio of voice, piano, and trombone. They augment their sound with a full orchestra for this self-titled EP. It’s a mix of big band, folk music, modern pop music, and rich streaks of the jazz trio that seed this wonderful album.
I’m pretty much addicted to this recording, and I wanted to get a few observations down in print so I could start sharing my discovery as soon as possible. It’s albums like this that spur me into action on Bird is the Worm (and other sites)… tiny surprises of under-the-radar albums that leave me euphoric and grateful and wanting to tell everyone in sight.
Anyways, let’s get to the music…
Your album personnel: Karolina Almgren (voice), Gustav Davidsson (trombone), Karl Magnus Andersson (piano), with the orchestra: Pontus Hedström (clarinet), Josefin Runseen (violin), Bernhard Greter (viola), Povel Widestrand (accordion, whistle), Klara Ejeby (trumpet), Johannes Aspman (trumpet), Adrian Sellius Asling (alto sax), Erik Boman (tenor sax & bass clarinet), Henrik Büller (baritone sax), Jonas Nilsson (contrabass), and Anton Jonsson (drums).
The orchestra isn’t omnipresent. The trio has room to breathe, and often does so deeply and satisfyingly. When the orchestra comes in, it’s often with a light touch, careful not to drown the structure built by the trio. But there are moments, wonderful moments, when the orchestra surges to a penultimate frenzy and achieves total immersion… when it happens, they are stunning passages, no less beautiful for their intensity. Perhaps they are beautiful because of their intensity.
There are touches of folk music here, too. The folk music never grips the songs, only gives hints and shades. But even the mere implication of it lets the folk music leave its imprint on the final product.
The pop music traits fall along the lines of quasi-ambient groups like Radiohead and Stereolab. A simmering drone that gathers strength, imperceptibly at first, until it becomes too palpable to overlook, and the simmer reaches a mellifluous boil.
The opening track “As Slowly As” leads out with Davidsson’s trombone, Andersson’s piano providing some inconspicuous accompaniment. Almgren joins in with a balladeer’s lyricism. When she sings that “We can fly away,” it’s a convincing statement, and when “The wind is blowing harder,” it’s not a reflection of danger, but that “We are free.” As if reflecting the words themselves, the tempo and volume rise like a stormy gust.
Second track “Gå din väg (med den Episka Orkestern)” begins with orchestral fury. The swirling dissonance of horns and woodwinds and strings advance like a monsoon. And, then, they suddenly give way to Almgren’s sing-songy lullaby. Her inflections give life to a casual, almost blithe spirit. And she makes it catchy as hell, even though her vocalizations are slightly unconventional. The orchestra states a lush melody as reinforcement, and when it begins a repetition of those notes, it signals the start of the grand finale. Clarinet solos over the top as Almgren gives way. The volume increases, the density of the sound magnifies, Almgren’s voice rejoins the fray, and then, in an instant, it all drops off and the song flutters like a solitary Autumn leaf to the ground.
Third track “Fortsätter Upp” returns to the trio format. A fleeting quiet tune. With Swedish lyrics, a bit mournful, a bit of heartbreak, and simply sung.
Fourth track “Two Sides (med den Episka Orkestern)” begins with a high-pitchted drone. Almgren sings over the the top of it, her voice at a lower register. Trombone joins in, deep throaty pronouncements. The woodwinds and trumpets join in, adding to both the drone and partnering up with trombone. It all transforms into a wall of sound, one that leaps into the background when Almgren needs some space, then back into the foreground when Almgren wants to partner up. The second half of the song has Almgren transitioning her voice into a chant, and the orchestra matches her new marching formation, bringing a buoyancy to their escalating intensity.
Album ends with “För vem.” It’s back to just the trio. Overall, a quiet tune that occasionally stands up and shouts. It’s a nice send-off for such an evocative album. The album transitions from intensity to serenity and then back again are a big reason why this album is so thrilling. On “För vem,” Davidsson’s trombone sounds deliciously pensive, Andersson’s piano notes vivid as moonlight on still water. Together, the trio ends the album with one final recitation of the melody. For an album that exudes so much strength, the peaceful way the trio make their exit, it leaves a satisfying taste, that this was exactly as things should be.
Blommor Inomhus is a wonderful little surprise, and a promising sign of things to come.
P.S. It appears the band name translates as “Flowers Indoors” (or “indoor flowers”). I’ve emailed Almgren to ask about this, and the album. An interview of some sort may follow.
ADDENDUM: Almgren responded that the album title does, in fact, translate to “Flowers Indoors.” They are a young trio, only been around for about six months. They originally met at the school, Fridhems Folkhögskola. While Almgren typically plays sax, she had a few songs that she enjoyed singing, and they decided to record an album around them. They brought in some of their friends and acquaintances to staff the orchestra, then went out into the countryside outside of Gothenburg and began recording.
The album is Self-Produced. Jazz from the Gothernburg, Sweden scene.
You can stream the entire album on their Soundcloud page.
Available at Amazon
Jul 22 2016
Recommended: Blommor Inomhus – “Herbarium”
There’s an undeniable charisma to the music of Blommor Inomhus. The trio’s casual delivery gives the impression that their tunes are delivered off the cuff, and with just the tiniest concept of what they should be and where they’d take them. But, in fact, this trio of trombonist Gustav Davidsson, pianist Karl Magnús Andersson and the soprano sax and vocals of Karolina Almgren is meticulous both in the planning and conceptualization of their music. The trio’s excellent self-titled debut EP had them bring in a small orchestra of musicians for a recording session in the Gothenburg countryside, and the give-and-take between the trio and large ensemble passages led to all kinds of wonderful conflicts and synchronicities, and spoke to a grand design strategized before the first note was played. And now their newest, Herbarium, sees the trio building an album of songs around the images and names of flowers found in their herbarium. And this album, like their debut, has a charm and magnetism difficult not to fall for.
Almgren’s storybook lyricism on “Sakura,” twisting words, emphasizing notes, and changing directions in tone is like a series of switchbacks on a mountain pass leading to a fairytale castle. And things swing in the opposite direction on “Vild hyasint,” which beats with the heart of a ballad and flows with a motion cool and calm and comforting. But the trio is at its best when it infuses the music with varying degrees of dissonance, adding some tension to its laid-back nature. The frantic pulse of piano on “Anemon” marries nicely in contrast to the languorous sighs from trombone and sax. “Prästkrage” sees a similar approach from piano, but this time around the whole trio goes speeding along. There’s “Murgröna” with its staggered cadence and boozy melodicism and the way it shows the other side of the mirror to the focused intensity of “Begonia.”
Music that has its own distinct personality, to be sure. Don’t let this album slip past you.
Your album personnel: Karolina Almgren (voice, soprano sax), Gustav Davidsson (trombone) and Karl Magnús Andersson (piano).
Released on Havtorn Records.
Listen to more album tracks on the band’s Soundcloud page.
Jazz from the Malmö and Gothenburg, Sweden scenes.
Available at: Amazon | eMusic
And be sure to check out Blommor Inomhus’s self-titled debut EP. I still listen to that album every so often despite my busy listening schedule. More notable, though, is that the album earned the #10 slot on the Best of 2012 list.
You can read about the album here (LINK).
And here’s that Best of 2012 list (LINK).
By davesumner • Jazz Recommendations, Jazz Recommendations - 2016 releases • 0 • Tags: Blommor Inomhus, Gustav Davidsson, Havtorn Records, Karl Magnús Andersson, Karolina Almgren