When a band parlays different styles and moods into one defining experience, as saxophonist Mikko Innanen and Innavista do on Clustrophy, it would be easy for some of the music to slip down the hatch of inconsequence. The band, however, keeps this at bay with an avid sense of observation and release, letting structure stamp the quintet's class and freedom to find its realm without losing focus. The path to resolution has some surprising twists and turns that are navigated with agility and compact logic.
Saxophonists Fredrik Ljungkvist and Daniel Erdmann help Innanen shape the music. Each is aware and sensitive to the needs of the other, an approach that opens space for exploration as much as it does interaction, as showcased on "The Grey Adler Returns Again."
A high tide of swirling intensity erupts on the head of Ljungkvist's tenor and Innanen and Erdmann's baritone saxophones. Keyboardist Seppo Kantonen cuts into the propulsion, his synthesizer pumping a cogent textural contrast through intricate changes. Ljungkvist shifts the aesthetic with vigorous phrases before the advent of the baritones flips it all over into roiling intensity and the whole becomes one kinetic sea of sound before the horns draw apart and get into a three-way dialogue, reverberating through the shunting of sound and shape. All of this rides over the array of accents peppered by drummer Joonas Riipa, who holds the rhythm in the cusp of his imagination right across the board.
"A Panoramic View from the Top Floor" is a study in contrast, its soft folds unfurled by Ljungkvist in a subtle and dreamy air on clarinet. It's laidback, but Ljungkvist is astute enough to embellish it with emphatic phrases to bolster the dynamic, while Riipa adds to the tune's shimmering beauty with contained rhythmic exploration.
An unabashed sense of swing invests the title track, cementing the band's versatility. Erdmann carries the melody on tenor, with Innanen counterpointing his line on baritone before finding his own path and showing that he can be a convincing swinger as well. Kantonen has his own view, greasing the groove with slithering lines.
Space interpolates the collective improvisation "Jam Afane," with flute, voice and African influences in a confluence that locks in and ticks convincingly.
Disparate permutations make for a winning album.
Track Listing: Earth´s Second Moon; Vraa-Tender; Clustrophy; A Panoramic View from the Top Floor; Underground; The Grey Adler Returns Again; Ardennes at Dawn; Jantaraboon II; Detto the Magician; 757; Jam Afane.
Personnel: Mikko Innanen: alto, baritone and soprano saxophones, Indian wooden clarinet, percussion, whistles, toy instruments; Fredrik Ljungkvist: tenor and sopranino saxophones, clarinet; Daniel Erdmann: tenor, baritone and soprano saxophones, toy clarinet; Seppo Kantonen: synthesizers; Joonas Riippa: drums, percussion, pocket trumpet.