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Live Reviews

Scene Norway 2 at King's Place

By Published: December 13, 2013
What was most remarkable about the entire performance was how structured the music felt, and how various members of the group managed to synchronize their playing with some of the slapstick antics of both Chaplin and Keaton. This was not hard-to-digest free improvisation; this was music with a specific purpose, and even more surprising was how, for example, those three notes yelled out by the audience became the foundation for a theme that reappeared, more than once, during The Immigrant. A similar focus took place during College as, once again, after the short intermission, Sheppard called upon the audience to provide a time signature for the soundtrack to College.

There were some, in the audience, who were slightly disappointed that Molvær was not more heavily featured, but the reality was that he was, along with Bang, merely part of an ensemble whose purpose was not to think about musical features and solos; rather, it was all about creating music that meshed with the films, and on that level Sheppard's group was completely successful. Bang's live sampling was, perhaps, more subtle than usual—to some extent a function of working in a larger ensemble than usual (not that he hasn't before, but he is more often than not seen in the context of duos, trios and quartets, where his contributions are much clearer)—but as he periodically looped small motifs, massaged them electronically and fed them back to the group, he clearly managed to shift the music's direction on more than one occasion.

Molvær focused on melody, working with his band mates to create thematic motifs that seemed to represent certain characters or, in some cases, events taking place in the films and from that perspective his contributions were invaluable. But, at the end of the day, it was all about a collective score and Sheppard's quintet, augmented by the two Norwegian guests, made this afternoon's Not So Silent Movies a thoroughly entertaining success.

After a short break it was off to Hall Two for Scene Norway 2's closing show, tying into another regular series at the venue—Out Hear, described by the King's Place website as, " A blank canvas for open-minded programming in experimental and multimedia performance, Out Hear explores electronics, classical compositions and acoustical elements from leading and upcoming artists within the world of contemporary music."

From a Norwegian perspective, there are few choices that would have been more appropriate than singer Sidsel Endresen, whose work, over the past decade, has truly taken the human voice to places it has never been before. Continuing Talkington's goal of bringing Norwegian and British musicians together, she asked Endresen to collaborate with turntable soundscapist Philip Jeck. This was not Endresen's first encounter with Jeck; the two first collaborated at the 2011 Punkt Festival where, as part of British avant-songsmith David Sylvian
David Sylvian
David Sylvian
's Uncommon Deities installation, the two came together for the first time. Since then they've performed together one additional time, making this third collaboration one in which the two artists were clearly still finding their way together—sometimes successfully, but other times not quite making a clear connection.

Both artists are experts in their very specific areas. Endresen's cell-based, extended vocal techniques transcended mere melody and language to create a vernacular all her own, one comprised of many different aspects including guttural utterings (sometimes, seemingly in reverse), odd, completely acoustically-driven effects that made her sound as though she were singing under water, strange sibilances, wind sounds and much, much more; what's been remarkable about having the good fortune to see her a few times each year since 2006 has been the opportunity to watch her slowly, but persistentyly expand her language.

Jeck's use of turntables as a means of creating distinctive sound worlds is unparalleled, as he processes them to create crackly ambient textures—sometimes approaching silence, other times turning harsher and more aggressive.

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