Marvel Machine: Volt / Revolt (2011)
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Volt / Revolt brings together three highly gifted Norwegian jazz musicians who wanted to try something completely different. All the music is spontaneously improvised, but its ingredients owe more to raw metal, punk, noise and electronic experimental sounds than to the rich jazz legacy. This is by no means an attempt to create cerebral, forward-thinking music, but to enjoy exploring the sonic options of such free form formats. The trio even declares that "no intellectuals were harmed during the recording of this album, but some elitists were offended."
The three musicians guitarist Petter Vågan, who has collaborated with such outfits such as Motif and Mellow Motif; bassist Rune Nergaard, a member of Bushman's Revenge who has also recorded with saxophonists Tore Brunborg and Eirik Hegdal; and drummer Henning Calsenmet during their studies at the Trondheim conservatory. All three add electronic effects to their instruments, pushing the vibrant improvised sounds even further.
There is no knowing which way Marvel Machine will go on this debut. Some of the pieces are abstract sound poem (the repetitive, ringing "Node") or loose flirtations with abstract, heavy metal sounds that take five minutes to gel into clear rhythmic form ("Meanwhile, Back On Earth"). The calmly cinematic "Rimrocked" is, nevertheless, dark and threatening, all its sounds distorted and processed. The trio continues to experiment with processed noisy textures on "Nightmarchers," while still managing to follow a rigid electronic pulse. "Fog Of War" and the closing "9 To 5 Rebel" are minimalist experiments with dark atmospheric sounds.
Elsewhere, the trio attempts to lock the free flowing improvisations into song formats. The fractured heavy rhythm of the title piece dictates the structure of this slow-brewing improvisation. "Plongcore" disguises, at its beginning, as a metallic onslaught, but ultimately dissolves into dense interplay. The thick, thumping bass playing, the hammering drums throughout and the thorny guitar lines on "CircleKing" or "Horseplay" may sound like a tribute to recent power trios such guitarist Raoul Bjorkenheim, bassist Bill Laswell and drummer Morgan Ågren's Blixt, (Cuneiform, 2010)clearly an influence on this triobut Marvel Machine possesses its own strong sonic print. "Shell Shock" is a powerful display of cathartic interplay from its first note.
Whatever path this trio follows, it delivers a convincing and promising musical journey.
Track Listing: Node; Volt/ Revolt; Plongcore; Meanwhile, Back On Earth; Rimrocked; Nightmarchers; CircleKing; Fog Of War; Horseplay; Shell Shock; 9 To 5 Rebel.
Personnel: Petter Vågan: guitar, electronics; Rune Nergaard: bass, electronics; Henning Carlsen: drums, electronics.
Record Label: Gigafon