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Hot Four: Eye of the Moose (2014)

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Hot Four: Eye of the Moose How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Norwegian-Swedish quartet Hot Four was founded by Norwegian vocal artist Andreas Backer as a vehicle for free-minded, free- improvised, free-chamber textures that float, obviously freely, between elements inspired by European influences, modern jazz and contemporary classical music. Backer wisely chose fearless, experienced and highly versatile improvisers—Norwegian drummer Ståle Liavik Solberg, who studied with him in the music academy of Stavanger; Swedish guitarist David Stackenäs and Canadian-ex-pat double bassist Joe Williamson. Stockholm-based in recent years, both previously played with Backer while he was studying in Stockholm a few years ago. The quartet's debut album was recorded live in Sweden and mixed and mastered by Norwegian reed master Frode Gjerstad
Frode Gjerstad
Frode Gjerstad
b.1948
sax, alto
.

Together the four dive, head on, into a thick, intense exploration of various dynamics, textures and timbres. The notion of playing music receives a new meaning with these highly resourceful musicians. They enjoy the innocent and often eccentric, unattached to any musical conventions. A game-like process of playing— finding and inventing sounds, shaping and mutating these sounds, collides these sounds without any preconceived ideas what might happen next, but react immediately to these sonic occurrences. Songs are performed with a rare collaborative and emphatic manner.

There is a delicate balance between all four players on the first, title-piece, that embraces a gentle flow of wordless, stream-of-consciousness vocals by Backer. This interplay changes course to one that is more dense on "Antler of the Moose," where they establish a nervous, rhythmic world of sound. Nothing is conventional, not human vocals or those produced using extended techniques on drum skins, cymbals, or guitar and double bass bodies and strings. Still, it all sounds organic, nuanced and surprisingly coherent. This inventive, collective improvisation rests and adapts a spare, strangely distant and quiet interplay on "Claw of the Moose," before the quartet finishes the live set with another arresting, noisy outburst.

A highly original and inventive quartet.

Track Listing: Eye of the Moose; Antler of the Moose; Claw of the Moose; Tail of the Moose.

Personnel: Andreas Backer: voice; David Stackenäs: guitars; Joe Williamson: double bass; Ståle Liavik Solberg: drums, percussion.

Record Label: Creative Sources Recordings


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