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Live Reviews

Punkt Festival 2013

By Published: September 19, 2013
For the Punkt live remix, while Kleive wasn't directly visible with Bang, as the opaque curtain largely hid them from the audience, Knudsen's camera captured and processed his image—often, just his hands—to create another visual presentation that suggested Punkt's old laboratory ambience may be gone, but what's replaced it was no less captivating. At times, the remix drew on Wassié and Sourisseau's music so directly that it felt like Kleive was a drummer who would have worked very well with them in real time, even though their music didn't really need it. Kleive's stylistic reach seems endless, and his ability to work with Bang to create a live remix with its own narrative flow resulted in a performance that stood both alongside its source music and on its own as a separate entity. With Punkt's tenth anniversary now on the horizon, and with only one album released—Live Remixes Vol 1 (Jazzland), featuring Sidsel Endresen and trumpeter Jon Hassell
Jon Hassell
Jon Hassell
b.1937
trumpet
(a clear touchstone for much of the music emerging from the Punkt axis today)—already five years old, it's time to release some more examples of Punkt's innovations to a larger international demographic.



When guitarist Eivind Aarset released Dream Logic (2012)—his first release as a leader for ECM Records, after a string of superb albums on Jazzland—it came as something of a surprise, even to the most ardent fans of this guitar anti-hero. A near-solo recording, with layers of guitars, the only collaborator was Jan Bang, and while this unexpectedly dark, quiet and gentle recording has been performed live in duo with Bang, it's largely been toured with Aarset's Sonic Codex group—bassist Audun Erlien and drummers/percussionists Rune Arnsen and Erland Dahlen—bringing a completely different perspective to some of Aarset's deepest writing of his career. As one more special Punkt performance, Aarset was able to bring Bang together with Sonic Codex, resulting in a show that demonstrated the guitarist's increasing musical depth and breadth.

Opening in dark ethereal terrain, with Aarset's snakelike eBowed guitar and Bang creating broad brushstroke washes of sound, Dream Logic was taken much further, and to far different places. Dark, early '70s Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
-informed grooves blended with singing saws (Dahlen), tuned metal (Arnesen) and bowed guitar to take the music into territory at once whisper-delicate and more aggressively free than Aarset achieved with the studio recording. That only two years ago Sonic Codex was more akin to progressive rock—as evidenced by its incendiary show at the 2011 Montreal Jazz Festival—than the indigo moods of Dream Logic only supported Aarset's unfailing confidence in the potential of this group, Erlien even picking up a guitar at one point, to add a tremelo'd chordal foundation to one of Aarset's pieces.

With Norway possessing a number of outstanding drummers that's disproportionate to its small population of five million, it also does twin-drummer groups like few others, Dahlen and Arnesen (who goes back to Aarset's earlier Light Extracts group) seemed joined at the hip; beyond the additional textures they added with a plethora of hand percussion and Dahlen's saw, when they settled into a groove together on kits, it seemed like a single body with four arms and four legs, rather than two separate people. Erlien's bass play was some of his most inspired in recent memory; clearly Aarset's music has inspired everyone in the group to think considerably more outside the box. Meanwhile, Aarset was his characteristically patient self, allowing the music to unfold slowly, and doing very little to draw attention to himself, except that the sonic landscapes he created—and, in this case, in some lovely push and pull with Bang—were impossible to deny.

Unlike most of Aarset's live performances, this show was not completely continuous; still, while there were breaks between pieces, with the exception of introducing the band at the end of the set, there were no additional introductions by the characteristically quiet, reticent guitarist. But Aarset never needed to speak; his music has always said everything, but with Dream Logic representing a significant step forward, at his 2013 Punkt performance his music spoke even greater volumes.



With the dream team of Arve Henriksen, Jan Bang and Erik Honoré remixing Aarset's performance, the benefit of being able to jump right into the live remix with almost no pause was proven, as Henriksen took the two notes that Aarset's group made its thundering, dramatic conclusion, and turned them into the starting point for a remix that also demonstrated Punkt's ever-present philosophy: that a live remix is no shorter than it needs to be, but no longer, either.


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