Albatrosh: Seagull Island (2009)
That the two possess formidable technique is a given. Dale is largely impressionistic, painting his soundscapes in broad swatches of soft colors and elegant voicings, demonstrating poignant majesty on the aptly titled "Requiem," although he's capable of greater power when necessary. Roligheten's penchant for the lyrical is offset with extended techniques that reference fellow Norwegian Hakon Kornstad, opening "Requiem" with a solo spot that combines circular breathing and impressively multi-layered harmonics, before turning thematic alongside Dale's entry. Roligheten's visceral screams, harsh rasps, and percussive tongue pops punctuate the music when it moves into more energetic territory, as it does on "Pölva," which rallies around a brief, knotty theme before heading into free territory that remains as focused as it is purposeful.
Writing duties are split relatively equally between individual compositions from the two, along with two collaborations"Pölva" and the rhythmically propulsive "Valium," where Dale's relentless left-hand bass line underscores a melody that's again on the idiosyncratic side. The manner in which Roligheten and Dale seem to veer off into free territory and then coalesce again reflects both the amount of time the two have spent working together, despite their young ages, and a keen sense of timing, lending "Valium" a wry, Monk-like sense of humor.
Albatrosh clearly understands the jazz tradition but, like many Norwegians, largely avoids direct reference, working its spirit rather than its letter. Harmonically no less sophisticated, but possessing an unmistakable classicism that creates its own language, Roligheten and Dale take saxophonist's "Gambler"perhaps the most distinctly jazz-like head of the setinto an altogether different space that possesses a subtle regality, with Dale's nuanced touch as defining to the duo's sound as Roligheten's more adventurous sonics.
Despite the generally subdued ambience, there's no shortage of dynamics to be found on Seagull Island. But couched in understatement, Roligheten and Dale manage to say much without ever resorting to excess. A fine debut from a duo with a bright future, Seagull Island doesn't just suggest great promise; it delivers on it as well.
Track Listing: Gambler; Pölva; Valium; Mr. Fixit; Third March; Matrosh; Mystery of the sound <
Personnel: André Roligheten: tenor saxophone; Eyolf Dale: piano.
Record Label: Inner Ear