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Anna Greta Siguroardottir - Max Schultz: Brighter

Chris Mosey By

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An album of moods, in which light, lilting, melodic passages are contrasted with dissonance, Max Schultz's authorative guitar generally lightens things up while Joakim Milder's saxophone signals a plunge into neurotic introspection. All this tends to drown out Icelandic pianist Anna Greta Siguroardottir's gentle musings on piano.

It sounds as if they just met, but in fact Schultz and Siguroardottir first began playing together in 2015 after a stint in Hakan Brostrom's New Places Orchestra. For this album they added Christian Spering on bass, Magnus Gran on drums and Milder on diverse reeds. Then they flung a string quartet into the mix. This features Samuel Runsteen and Annie Svedlund on violins, Marta Eriksson on viola and Lisa Reuter on cello.

The result? Some of it music that is pleasant enough, but most of it music liable to send listeners climbing the nearest wall.

"Heavy Heart" opens with a procession of dreary, heavy chords signalling an attempt at experimentation that never really goes anywhere. "Brighter" is, well, just that. But, though everybody tries hard, it's not enough to drag the proceedings from the mire.

"AG," a Schultz composition dedicated to Siguroardottir, is pleasantly melodic, and she plays well on it, coping admirably with diverse changes in tempo.

"Morning Light," a joint effort by Siguroardottir and Schultz, tries hard without ever quite making it. "It's OK" is just that—Siguroardottir seems to be getting into the swim of things and Schultz plays some fine melodic guitar.

But "Lovesong: Hulda," written by Siguroardottir, stays firmly on the page despite Schultz's efforts, before descending into experimental caterwauling. Then "A Part Of You" brings Milder to the fore with much "free" blipping and squawking. "Who Left the Building" is reminiscent at times of that hoary old folk favourite "Greensleeves," while "Grace" dithers and dickers around without ever settling into the finished song it might have been.

Track Listing: Follow John; Heavy Heart; Brighter; AG; Morning Light; It’s OK; Lovesong: Hulda; A Part Of You; Who Left The Building; Grace.

Personnel: Max Schultz: guitar; Anna Greta Siguroardottir: piano; Joakim Milder: saxophones; Christian Spering: bass; Magnus Gran: drums; Sjostromska Kvartetten: Samuel Runsteen, Annie Svedlund, violin; Marta Eriksson, viola; Lisa Reuter, cello.

Title: Brighter | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Prophone Records

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