Sunday, May 10, 2015

Building Instrument

Building Instrument (trio)
Building Instrument (Hubro; 2014)
Mari Kvien Brunvoll (vocals, percussion)
Oyvind Hegg-Lunde (drums and percussion) 
Asmund Weltzien (synthesizer, electronics, melodica)

Peaceful. Thoughtful. Enveloping. These are just a few impressions you might come away with after experiencing lush beauty of the Building Instrument debut album.

The Norwegian trio present a mellow experimental folk sound that blends contemporary themes with acoustic and electronic instruments all the while feeling sparse and emotional. Brunvoll voice adds an ethereal quality reminiscent of Elizabeth Frazer or A.C. Marias. But those references are only that--references. Brunvoll glistens alongside percussions and keyboards on wistful, "Bli Med. And the wonderful and heartbreaking opener "Historia," show that this trio is working on a completely different plan than most within the genre.

A more rhythmic and soulful stance is taken with "Klokka Sju," A nightfall midtempo piece with a laid back groove that's driven forward by Brunvoll's vocals but enhanced by electronics and succinct patterns laid down by Hegge-Lunde.

Building Instrument is a solid and startling debut that puts faith and fuel back into the emotional void left bands like Cocteau Twins, Cranes, and Dead Can Dance (even though DCD are back recording). Building Instrument provide a new direction and perfect path towards the future. A lovely debut and hopefully we hear and see more from them sooner rather than later. Highly Recommended.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Arni Karlsson: Hold

JazzWrap: 2014 Album Of The Year

Árni Karlsson (piano)
Hold (Mold Music; 2014)
Þorgrímur Jónsson (bass)
Scott McLemore (drums)

Romantic and modern. That is the best way to describe the new album from Icelandic veteran, Arni Karlsson. On his fourth release, Hold, Karlsson explores similar territory to his previous trio effort, Mold. Again, the composition are excellently crafted and brilliantly executed by Jonsson and McLemore.

"Time" is beautiful and spacious. The piece is filled with moments patience that allows the notes to linger and listeners imagination to absorb and drift with the melody. While still a midtempo ballad, the trio does begin a slow climb to heavy tonality towards the mid-period on the tune, but the overall impression of the piece is still calm and reflective.

"Morning Glow" and "View" both provide different insights into the trio. "Morning Glow" flows with a classical perspective but infused with some bubbly chord changes on Karlsson's part. "View" is an uptempo piece flexing more muscle amongst all three musicians. McLemore and Karlsson working counter with Jonsson exploring a steady path enhances the rhythm just underneath.

The closing number, "Petra," is a bit of a departure for Karlsson. It maintains his tradition playing but the composition has more improvised and stunning moments performed by Jonsson and McLemore. They seem to stretch out more. This piece seemed slightly reminiscent of the latter E.S.T. works. Very enlightening and a nice framework for the future.

Hold is a consistent and enchanting session that I have yet to stop listening to over the last few months. Arni Karlsson has created an album in Hold that will make you fall in love with it on every spin. Highly and Emotionally Recommended.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tann: Needle Committed

Tann (trio)
Needle Committed (Traumton Records; 2014)
Dirk Häfner (guitar)
René Bornstein (bass)
Demian Kappenstein (drums)

A fun and interesting discovery a few days ago. I stumble my way into listening to the new release from German trio, Tann. This is an exciting record from a growing set of cross genre bending veterans on the German scene.

Needle Committed is a beautiful blend of both jazz and rock that stands out among many of the European trios of the moment. This is mainly due to emphasis on the guitar instead of the piano. Bouncing numbers like "Mandy's Dandy," and "Nanunks Garten" bring a fierce energy that cuts with rock intensity filled with steady intricate lines of the jazz ethos.

"Dra Di Net Um" with its funk basslines and staccato structure show the trio and embody avant garde and groovy in the same four minute span. While "Orgosolo" is more of a gentle ballad which you would have expected from a guitar trio like this. But this beautiful piece comes very late into the album and is a welcome spot--showing maturity as well as standout quality.

Needle Committed provides a new variety of styles that should provide a number of hours for the listen to dissect and enjoy. I've loved listening to this record over the last few days. Here's hoping that we hear more Tann soon rather than later.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jason Adasiewicz: From The Region

Jason Adasiewicz (vibes)
From The Region (Delmark, 2014)
Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (bass)
Mike Reed (drums)

There are times when I feel like Jason Adaasiewicz has channeled the spirit of Walt Dickerson, another great vibraphonist. Both posse a unique talent of making their instrument and compositions sound and feel more personal than what it appears.

Adasiewicz has done it again with his latest release, From The Region. It's dark and lovely with brushes of intimacy at its center. Crafting a hard bop vibe on "Classic Route," Adasiewicz invites you in with some warm opening chord progressions. Then waiting to just about the middle of the number to begin showing the listener the trios full impact with hypnotic tones and tight calculated notes which soon round back to the opening lines and guide the listen out.

Flaten starts off "Two Comes One" with some superb low notes as both Adasiewicz and Reed slide in smoothly. While Reed takes the swinging action of the piece, Flaten and Adasiewicz revolve around his playing with a mixture of groovy details and free form. "Is A Bell A Rose" is a steady ballad that allows the trio ease you out of session on a heavy, somber tone but with sweet mixture of longing and desire for more.

Jason Adasiewicz has really come into his own in the last few years and after taking a really long spin with From The Region, I feel like this is probably my favourite of all his records. And it is by far one of my favourite records of the year. An well balanced and high developed session. Highly Recommend!