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Girls in Airports: Fables

Ian Patterson By

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Copenhagen quartet Girls in Airport is in fine form on Fables, its fourth release, and first on the Edition Records label. There are fewer big tunes than before although the band's trademark melodic hooks and rhythmic drive, its understated lyricism and hypnotic grooves are all present in abundance. What's been brought into sharper focus is the emotional currency in the writing and a narrative thread that seems to flow through these nine compositions. Significantly too, the percussive bite that Victor Dybbroe brought to Migration (Gateway Music, 2011) and Kaikoura (Gateway Music, 2013) contributes greatly to an intoxicating fusion of meditative lyricism and shamanistic funk.

The sounds of Charles Mingus' "Fables of Faubus" accompanied the recording of Fables and Mingus was in fact an early working title. However, other than the signature polyphonic waltz that saxophonists Martin Stender and Lars Greve weave throughout there's little overt connection to the legendary bassist's music, other than the strong collective identity that—like Mingus' ensembles—Girls in Airports exudes.

The tinkling metallic percussion, dreamy keys and curling Eastern melodies of the title track give way to harsher, more insistent sonorities as Dybbroe and Greve uncork a howling incantation. On "Sea Trial" clarinet and saxophone ply a graceful slow waltz whose susurrus curves contrast with the metronomic percussive pulse. Mallet-driven African rhythms rise and fall on "Randall's Island" as Mathias Holm's washing minimalism and another lulling saxophone melody fuse ethereally; the entire ensemble is suddenly lifted by Mads Forsby's punchy beats, the signal for the group to lock into an irresistible groove, with psychedelic overtones courtesy of Holm's shimmering sci-fi soundscapes.

A delightful blend of ambient minimalism and tribal undercurrents underpin mellifluous, saxophone-led melodies on "Mammatus" and "Attentur." This balm and pulse combination threads its way through much of the music on Fables, creating a suite-like continuity. A hypnotic industrial rhythm and a fat drum beat instil a greater sense of momentum on "Aleki," which bleeds into "Dovetail" where saxophone and clarinet intertwine. Holm's delicate music box motif courses through "Yola," accompanied by subtle tenor rasping and undulating African xylophone colors.

A fascinating sonic journey comes to an end with "Episodes," a ruminative coda founded upon a slow beat and melancholy lyricism that's just a little evocative of Yuri Honing's beguiling craft.

Fables is perhaps Girls In Airports' most satisfying release to date. Weighing in at just thirty eight minutes, the Danish group makes a very persuasive case that less is more. Moody and seductive, this sublime music works its charms from first note to last.

Track Listing: Fables; Sea Trail; Randall's Island; Mammatus; Aftentur; Aeiki; Dovetail; Yola; Episodes.

Personnel: Martin Stender: saxophone; Lars Greve: saxophones, clarinets; Mathias Holm: keyboards; Victor Dybbroe: percussion; Mads Forsby: drums.

Title: Fables | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Edition Records


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