All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

556

Nils Petter Molvaer: Hamada

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
It's been four years since Norwegian trumpeter/Nu Jazz progenitor Nils Petter Molvær released a studio album (excepting Re-Vision (Sula, 2008), a collection of film music). When he performed at Punkt '07 in Kristiansand, Norway, it was one of his final performances with his longstanding group of guitarist Eivind Aarset, live sampler Jan Bang, turntablist DJ Strangefruit and drummer Rune Arnesen. Aarset and Bang return on Hamada, but it's a significant change for Molvær, representing a number of directional shifts and a sharp contrast to er (Sula, 2005).

Molvær's music is cinematic in scope; soundtracks to the imagination, his albums are best experienced as an integrated whole, although there are standout features throughout these ten original tracks. "Exhumation" opens with a lone trumpet; a plaintive and darkly lyrical call enhanced by just a touch of reverb. Segueing into "Sabkah"—where soft percussion and Aarset's tremolo'd guitar recall Ry Cooder's folkloric soundtrack to Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas (1984) in spirit, if not in specificity—the mood gradually becomes more atmospheric, leading into the ethereal "Icy Altitude." Gentle, with the unique, non-guitaristic soundscapes for which Aarset has become known, its paradox of ambient beauty and spare melancholy does nothing to prepare for the harsher realms of "Friction."

One of two tracks to feature a full group—drummer Audun Kleive creating a busy pulse far distanced from the techno/hip hop rhythms of earlier Molvær releases—"Friction" speaks with aggression and anger new to the trumpeter's canon. Heavily processed trumpet blends with sharply distorted, noise-laden guitar textures to create an anarchism that settles down, with great respite, into "Monocline," where Jan Bang's field recordings of children and other processed sounds from the street lead into a Gamelan-like passage, as Molvær's economical melodies provide a clear focus for the rich aural landscape around him.

"Soft Moon Shine" builds inevitably, with Aarset's bass lines and the overall textures recalling trumpeter Jon Hassell's dark, sensual space on Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street (ECM, 2009). Molvær's debt to Hassell has never been so clear; still, Molvær's distinctive tone—processed or not—and innate melodicism remain unmistakable.

"Cruel Attitude" best represents Hamada's paradigm shift. With Kleive's thundering pulse, bassist Audun Erlien's throbbing bass and Aarset's chaotic waves of sound working in concert with Molvær's equally hard-hitting and aggravated lines, it descends into a maelstrom of sound before settling into a near-anthemic coda with unexpected progressive rock overtones, reminiscent of King Crimson's "Coda: I Have a Dream," from The ConstruKction of Light (DGM Live, 2000). Another solo track leads to the more atmospheric "Anticline," reprising elements from "Monocline" to end the album on a more tranquil and optimistic note.

Hamada sounds unlike anything Molvær has done before, though it would be impossible for him to have achieved it without traveling the path he has since the groundbreaking Khmer (ECM, 1997). Stunning growth and unexpected directional shifts make Hamada one of Molvær's most moving and challenging records to date.

Track Listing: Exhumation; Sabkah; Icy Altitude; Friction; Monocline; Soft Moon Shine; Monocline Revisited; Cruel Altitude; Lahar; Anticline.

Personnel: Nils Petter Molvær: trumpet, voices (2-4, 8), beat programming (4), sound carpet (5, 7, 10), programming (6), metal percussion (10); Eivind Aarset: guitars (2-8, 10), programming (3, 6), bass (6), editing and arranging (6); Audun Erlien: bass (4, 8); Audun Kleive: drums (4, 8), editing (4, 8); Jan Bang: live sampling (5-7, 10), field recording (5, 6, 10), programming (5, 7, 10), editing and mixing (10).

Title: Hamada | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Mercury Heart

Mercury Heart

Nils Petter Molvaer
Baboon Moon

Cruel Altitude

Cruel Altitude

Nils Petter Molvaer
Hamada

In Pictures
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Rediscovery
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Buoyancy

Buoyancy

Okeh
2016

buy
Switch

Switch

Okeh
2014

buy
1/1

1/1

EmArcy
2013

buy
Baboon Moon

Baboon Moon

Sula Records
2011

buy
Hamada

Hamada

Sula Records
2010

buy
Hamada

Hamada

Thirsty Ear Recordings
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Fat Daddy CD/LP/Track Review
Fat Daddy
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Short Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Short Stories
by Gareth Thompson
Published: September 19, 2018
Read UHHM CD/LP/Track Review
UHHM
by John Bricker
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Decoy CD/LP/Track Review
Decoy
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller CD/LP/Track Review
Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018
Read "Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis" CD/LP/Track Review Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Essential Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Essential Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 24, 2017
Read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" CD/LP/Track Review Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 21, 2018
Read "Dissection Room" CD/LP/Track Review Dissection Room
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 27, 2018
Read "Zero" CD/LP/Track Review Zero
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 4, 2018
Read "How We Fall" CD/LP/Track Review How We Fall
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 6, 2018