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Album Review

Esbjorn Svensson: HOME.S.

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Esbjorn Svensson: HOME.S.
We've had a few from-the-vaults recordings worth celebrating since Esbjorn Svensson's sudden passing in mid-2008, but this long- belated discovery is a quiet surprise the music world could not have expected. There was the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (e.s.t.)'s final completed album Leukocyte (ACT Music) that same year, later followed by the equally exploratory 301 (ACT, 2012) which was compiled from the same sessions. A couple of posthumous live releases have further demonstrated how the trio's stylistic hodgepodge would appeal to rock-and techno-loving listeners as much as those across the jazz world. Naturally they have all been focused on e.s.t., which was the pianist's main (almost only) outlet through his entire career.

HOME.S. is inevitably unique by contrast: it comprises a set of sketches recorded in Svensson's basement only a couple weeks before his fatal accident, probably intended for more extensive flights of fancy in the trio's hands. If these aren't the pieces he would have eventually shared with the world, they are certainly not dashed-off demos either. There's an inspired germ of an idea behind each one—the contemplative sonata-like eloquence of "Zeta," the flighty "Epsilon" drifting into a pretty daydream, or the dramatic "Delta" with one of Svensson's characteristic twisty low-end lines rumbling like the stomp of an angry giant.

While a couple tracks barely have time to establish themselves before drifting off again, the tease is still less frustrating than tantalizing (the closing "Iota" somehow builds more classical drama than should be possible in only two minutes). Others take their time to smoothly unfold, such as the sunny mutating vamp of "Eta" which channels more than a little Keith Jarrett, or "Gamma" meandering from doubtful to warmly reassuring with a tinge of gospel. Trademark touches of Svensson's unclassifiable style are everywhere, always making an eclectic blend that could not have come from anyone else. It's a simple joy to hear his mind and fingers at play, exploring just for its own sake; even if this work-in- progress couldn't become another fully-developed landmark in the end, HOME.S. is nonetheless a beautiful set and a welcome gift.

Track Listing

Alpha; Beta; Gamma; Delta; Epsilon; Zeta; Eta; Theta; Iota.

Personnel

Esbjorn Svensson: piano.

Album information

Title: HOME.S. | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: ACT Music


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