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Moskus: Mestertyven (2014)

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Moskus: Mestertyven How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Norwegian piano trio Moskus—pianist Anja Lauvdal, double bassist Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson and drummer Hans Hulbækmo— decided to change its course on its sophomore release Mestertyven (Master Thief in Norwegian}. The trio's debut album Salmesykkel (Hubro, 2012) was recorded in the prestigious Atlantis Grammofon Studio in Stockholm while Mestertyven was recorded in the 17th century wooden Risør Kirke (church of the Holy Spirit), a venue for a summer chamber music festival. The grand piano was exchanged for an upright one and the trio well-rehearsed pieces for a recording session without any tunes ready.

These conscious choices not only left room for experimentation and invention but forced the three musicians to rethink and invent their roles within the trio. Moskus' sense of melody, playfulness, and humor is kept on its new album, but the unique, intimate atmosphere of the historical church and this particular recording called for an informal, adventurous approach. The intuitive, experimental version of Moskus' sound is now a tight, democratic, and egalitarian unit.

The eleven pieces are brief and concise, focused on one idea, eccentric and unpredictable as it may sound, exhaust this idea and move on to a fresher one. Few of these ideas are spread over more than three minutes and the five minutes of "Tandem med Sankt Peter" is an exception. Its repetition and the playful rhythm solidify its tense, hypnotic progression. The inventive pulse of Hulbækmo, not attached to any pattern, or color pieces as "Yttersvingen" in dark, mysterious shades. The trio experiments with cyclical Monkish phrases on "Rullings" and in an-open-ended, intense free improvisations on "Fuglene var i ertehumør" and "Glasblåsern." Only on "Tradisjonskvelern" Moskus explores familiar Nordic terrains of lyrical, melancholic ballads.

An imaginative, fearless trio.

Track Listing: Fjesing; Tandem med Sankt Peter; Yttersvingen; Jag är ett ägg; Rullings; Lille Trille; Fuglene var i ertehumør; Glasblåsern; Leverpostei med brie; Tradisjonskvelern; Gammel-Erik.

Personnel: Anja Lauvdal: piano; Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson: double bass; Hans Hulbækmo: drums.

Record Label: Hubro Records


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