Some instrumentalists are concerned with the technical nature of their instrument, absorbing harmony, scales, chord relationships and other methods to shape their desired goal. Others become enamoured with the sonic possibilities of the instrument, investigating the colours and textures that can be created. For Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset it is all important. His chops-less approach to playing and clear interest in the guitar as orchestra would imply that technique is less important; but the unique language that he has developed over the course of his previous two efforts, Electronique Noire and Light Extracts , would imply a more formidable technique at play that is simply so subtle that it is subsumed in the sheer musicality of the work. And that's exactly how it should be.
On Connected , Aarset continues his exploration of somewhat indirect melodicism and thick groove, all within a personal ambience that manages to capture some of the icy cool of the Norwegian landscape. "Changing Waltz" could be a travelogue, with Aarset's almost unrecognizable guitar sounds bringing to mind the whale songs that might be heard travelling through the fjords. The minimalist "Family Pictures 1" and "Family Pictures 2" may offer a more personal view, but they still evoke strong images of broad vistas.
And the nature-educing quality of Aarset's music is all the more remarkable, given its electronics-laden characteristic. Somehow, even with all the samples, programming and assorted odd noises, there is an underlying organic feel that differentiates Aarset from so much of the electronica coming out of Norway. Aarset rarely uses a guitar tone that could be called pure, but within his own timbral vision he seems to create an orchestrated sound that feels completely natural and unconsidered, even though it is clear that a lot of effort has gone into developing the sound.
Aarset's music has nothing to do with meaningless displays of virtuosic technique; rather, it is about building worlds. And while he is the main arbiter of his vision, he is not averse to bringing in other instrumental textures to broaden its scope. Hans Ulrik contributes plaintive reeds on "Feverish," while Dhafer Youssef contributes oud and a vocal chant on the east-meets-north "Nagabo Tomora." Groove is paramount throughout, whether it is the folk-like amble of "Silk Worm" or the more overtly techno rhythm of "Connectic."
Aarset should be considered more of a sound sculptor. What is improvised and what is structured is rarely clear but, in the final analysis, it's an unimportant distinction. What is important is how, with Connected as on his two previous releases, Aarset utilizes contemporary sonic tools to create a world all his own, with a distinctive imagination and unerring visual sensibility.
Track Listing: Family Pictures 2; Electro Magnetic in E; Connectic; Feverish; Silk Worm; Nagabo Tomora; Blue in E; Trasnmission; Family Pictures 2; Changing Waltz
Personnel: Eivind Aarset (guitars, electronics, programming, different noises, bass), Jan Bang (sampler, dictaphone), Erik Honoré (mix, engineering), Wetle Holte (drums, programming, electronic drums, different noises, keyboards, programming, drum machine FX), Marius Reksjo (acoustic bass, electric bass, synthesizer noise, synthesizer FX, Hans Ulrik (bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, clef noise), Pal "Strangefruit" Nyhus (turntables), Rune Arnesen (percussion), Raymond Pellicer (computer FX, programming), Dhafer Youssef (vocal, oud)
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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