All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

521

Nils Petter Molvaer: An American Compilation

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
In the 35 years since Miles Davis first put foot to wah-wah pedal, any number of musicians have tried to develop the original, shocking impacts of his 1969-74 electric recordings, or even just plain replicate them. (Davis himself tried, with generally disappointing results, throughout the 1980s.)

Current pretenders to Davis' electric legacy include two trumpeters: France's Erik Truffaz and Norway's Nils Petter Molvaer. Truffaz started out promisingly enough, but has recently been subsumed by a bland world-jazz fusion which verges at times on easy listening. Prime time Davis would eat him for breakfast.

Molvaer is something altogether different and more exciting. Since his emergence in 1997, and in particular during the last three or four years, he's created a body of electro-acoustic work whose raw power and fractured lyricism stand up alongside anything Davis recorded during his electric era, from Bitches Brew through Agharta and Pangaea's purple period. And then some: for Molvaer matches Davis not only in intensity, but also in radical imagination. No one has taken Davis' innovations further forward and closer to the edge.

An American Compilation is a blistering collection of material taken from 2002-2005 European releases, assembled to launch Molvaer's fresh assault on the US market following his signing to Thirsty Ear. The label will also be releasing the European sets er (2005) and the live Streamer (2004). Both albums are featured on An American Compilation, along with tracks from NP3 (2002) and the Live In Hamburg DVD (2003).

Most of the tracks, which are mixed one into another, are fierce, dark and volcanic. Molvaer melds his broodingly luminous trumpet improvisations with deep, throbbing percussion, mountainous sonic landscapes, urgent and galvanising rock, funk and trance beats, and creative DJ-ing.

It's all full of mystery and grandeur—this is spacey, tripped-out, bad shit—with a charged atmosphere that reminds me of Walter De Maria's famous Lightning Field installation: a square kilometre of stainless steel poles in the New Mexico desert across which electricity dances in a storm. It's intended as no insult to Molvaer to say that, if Davis were alive and in his thirties today, he might well be making music like "Solid Ether," "Nebulizer" and "Darker."

There is some moonlight amongst the darkness, however, just for contrast. "Little Indian," for Molvaer's daughter Maja, is built on a contemplative, almost gentle, dub reggae bass line, while "Only These Things Count," the only tune featuring vocals, is reminiscent of Norah Jones' reading of Nick Drake's "Day Is Done" on Charlie Hunter's Songs From The Analog Playground (Blue Note, 2001)—a pretty and gentle conclusion to a generally turbulent album.

An auspicious start to Molvaer's American campaign.


Track Listing: Water; Solid Ether; Nebulizer; Kakonita; Kakonita (Deathprod Mix); Darker; Vilderness (Live From Hamburg); Little Indian; Frozen; Tabula Rasa; Only These Things Count.

Personnel: Nils Petter Molvaer: trumpet, bass, keyboard, soundscapes, sampling, double bass, drum programming. With various personnel including: Rune Arnesen: drums, percussion; Eivind Aarset: guitars; Erik Honore: keyboards; Raymond Pellicier: loops, electronics; Jan Bang: samples, drum programming; DJ Strangefruit: vinyl abuse, programming; Sidsel Endersen: voice; Knut Saevik: programming, editing, drum programming, wahbass.

Title: An American Compilation | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Mercury Heart

Mercury Heart

Nils Petter Molvaer
Baboon Moon

Cruel Altitude

Cruel Altitude

Nils Petter Molvaer
Hamada

In Pictures
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Rediscovery
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Buoyancy

Buoyancy

Okeh
2016

buy
Switch

Switch

Okeh
2014

buy
1/1

1/1

EmArcy
2013

buy
Baboon Moon

Baboon Moon

Sula Records
2011

buy
Hamada

Hamada

Sula Records
2010

buy
Hamada

Hamada

Thirsty Ear Recordings
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Jazzamenco CD/LP/Track Review
Jazzamenco
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 13, 2018
Read You Have Options CD/LP/Track Review
You Have Options
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Heroes, Saints and Clowns CD/LP/Track Review
Heroes, Saints and Clowns
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Bowie, Berlin & Beyond CD/LP/Track Review
Bowie, Berlin & Beyond
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 13, 2018
Read For You CD/LP/Track Review
For You
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 12, 2018
Read "20" CD/LP/Track Review 20
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 20, 2018
Read "Solo vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Solo vol. 1
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 10, 2018
Read "What’s to Come" CD/LP/Track Review What’s to Come
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 28, 2018
Read "New Devices" CD/LP/Track Review New Devices
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 14, 2018
Read "In The Blue Light" CD/LP/Track Review In The Blue Light
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 5, 2018
Read "Moments Before" CD/LP/Track Review Moments Before
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 22, 2018