Mikkel Ploug (electric and acoustic guitars), Sissel Vera Pettersen, (voice, soprano saxophone, live electronics) and Joachim Badenhorst (clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone) create a stunning ambience in the crystalline use of their instruments on Equilibrium. The motifs are often gentle, breathing in the air of classical music or in the pastoral turns of chamber music. This in itself would be attractive enough, but Pettersen ups the ante with her voice. Hers is an instrument that can shape sound and syllable, making it the messenger of every articulation whether it is a whisper, an ululation or a prance on the edge of a scream.
The approach of the trio is clean and, to an extent, precise. Precision is exalted in the hymnal singing of Pettersen on "Chorale I," her voice a transparent gossamer of silk. Badenhorst's symmetrical lines on the clarinet complement her perfectly.
Ploug plays an open pop melody on the acoustic guitar, which Badenhorst and Pettersen take into a folk mood on "Soft Spoken." Pettersen is on the soprano saxophone, her lines as sinuous as her voice. The texture is woven at a gentle pace, but it is in that deliberation that ideas ferment and three different strands wrap themselves into one logical, and cohesive whole.
Electronics and free wheeling instruments cavort on "Ambiente." The jangle of the guitar, the soft permutations of the clarinet, and the increasing urgency of the voice that comes off like a broken record only to show how strong Petterson is in giving her voice an extraordinary ability to interpolate sound, make this a challenging outing.
The trio blends all the right ingredients for a plush, absorbing outing.