Computers are becoming increasingly prevalent in music - they are today almost as familiar as saxophones, trumpets or any other acoustic instrument you care to mention - and they feature extensively on two new releases from Swedish musicians Susanna Lindeborg (piano) and Ove Johansson (tenor saxophone).
The ambience of Like Jazz (which was launched at New York's Cobi's Place last month) is mostly digital and experimental. There's very little clear and unalloyed melodic or acoustic direction, and Per Anders Nilsson's computer technology takes center stage on tracks such as "Entr'acte and "Carte Orange," providing percussion, bass, keyboards and other sounds and textures. Listeners with more traditional instrumental tastes, however, may enjoy the opening title tune, in which Lindeborg and Johansson are in the foreground (Nilsson provides little more than a straightforward bass and beat background to the track), and also "Piano Point," in which Lindeborg plays against a synthesized, but authentic-sounding, acoustic bass.
One digitally-focused track that particularly stands out is "August Formula," an eerie-sounding tune in which Nilsson layers sounds from the piano and saxophone, creating an ambient backdrop to the melody. The album closes with a short retake on "Like Jazz," played closer to what a pre-computer age, acoustically-orchestrated tune might sound like.
Although not credited on the CD sleeve, computer technology is unmistakably present on Lines, from the opening track "Art Form Live," a seven-minute tune in which piano and saxophone improvise freely against an electronic bass-and-drums accompaniment. "Without Loop is a track where one cannot tell where three dimensional instruments end and the hard drive begins. It's an eight-minute tour-de-force in which saxophone and piano are both filled with effects (and, contrary to the title, there are loops all over the place).
One gets the feeling that Lindeborg and Johansson wanted to experiment much more freely on Lines than they did on Like Jazz. Standout tracks are "Drop Time," a short tune played against a semi-syncopated backbeat, and the aforementioned "Art Form Live."
On "Another Bass," Johannson plays a simple melody while the computerized effects give the song an almost nightmarish feel, with Lindeborg's piano playing mostly behind Johannson's saxophone improvisations.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Like Jazz; August Formula; Carte Orange; Entr'acte; Fuzzy Walk; Fuzzy Walk II; Sidebands; Random Layer; Piano Point; May Formula; Like Jazz (return).
Personnel: Susanna Lindeborg: piano; Per Anders Nilsson: computer; Ove Johansson: tenor saxophone.
Tracks: Art Form Live; Without Loop; Mixed Doc; Another Bass; The Day Before; 1st Move; 2nd Move; Drop Time.
Personnel: Susanna Lindeborg: piano; Ove Johansson: tenor saxophone.