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...

557

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

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Mercury Heart

Mercury Heart

Nils Petter Molvaer
Baboon Moon

Cruel Altitude

Cruel Altitude

Nils Petter Molvaer
Hamada

In Pictures
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Rediscovery
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Catching Up With
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
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 Live at Frankie's Jazz Club Album Reviews
Live at Frankie's Jazz Club
By Jack Bowers
March 24, 2019
Read Asperger Album Reviews
Asperger
By Don Phipps
March 24, 2019
Read The Fire Each Time Album Reviews
The Fire Each Time
By Mark Corroto
March 24, 2019
Read NauMay Album Reviews
NauMay
By Jerome Wilson
March 24, 2019
Read Molly Tigre Album Reviews
Molly Tigre
By Chris M. Slawecki
March 24, 2019
Read School of Fish Album Reviews
School of Fish
By Dan McClenaghan
March 23, 2019
Read Blood Album Reviews
Blood
By John Sharpe
March 23, 2019