7

Festen: Festen

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Does the world really need another Scandinavian group from the Clean Feed stable? Well in the case of Festen, the answer is a resounding yes! Further confounding the by now tired Nordic tone stereotype, and even diverging from the outfits influenced by the 1960s avant-garde, this quartet comprising four young Swedes based in Stockholm, propounds a free jazz thoroughly of the moment, forgoing time and tune on a collectively navigated journey.

All four live on their wits in an exhibition of nervy interplay. Korean-born Swedish-raised pianist Lisa Ullen is perhaps the band's key asset. When she plays things happen. She energizes the ensembles with her emphatic Cecil Taylor inspired commentary and jagged comping. Not that the rest of the group are any slouches. Clarinetist Isak Hedtjärn uses the extremes of his reeds to express himself, barely fingering a legitimate note during the entire 43-minute program.

During the lengthy opening "In The Kitchen," he moves from quavering as if in the grip of unspeakable emotion, to snorting rambunctious bass clarinet by the end. Similarly wide ranging, bassist Elsa Bergman veers from full-toned pizzicato to spidery bowed sibilance in the same cut, while on drums Erik Carlsson rumbles and taps to maintain momentum without recourse to bombast.

It's an egalitarian date in that roles aren't fixed, and placement of sound is governed by close listening rather than any hierarchy. Each track is episodic, subject to sudden change. Spiky exchanges at the outset of "2015 Forever" lead to rampaging piano and skittering clarinet. While Hedtjärn holds a dog whistle sustain, Ullen spins out jazzier lines with a hint of melody. But the most uncompromising moments come on the final "it never gets better than this." where violent crashing piano depth charges contrast with stratospheric clarinet. It's a good way to end an unpredictable but exhilarating session.

Track Listing: In The Kitchen; 2015 Forever; "det blir aldrig bättre än så här"; "it never gets better than this".

Personnel: Isak Hedtjärn: reeds; Lisa Ullén: piano; Elsa Bergman: double bass; Erik Carlsson: drums.

Title: Festen | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Chrome" CD/LP/Track Review Chrome
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 11, 2017
Read "On A Monday Evening" CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "On Hollywood Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Meet Me At Minton's" CD/LP/Track Review Meet Me At Minton's
by James Nadal
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Heaven" CD/LP/Track Review Heaven
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: July 3, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.