The exploration of different musical formats has been one of the defining characteristics of Danish guitarist Jakob Bro
for a long time. It makes perfect sense when you think about Bro's approach to music. He is an artist that likes to work with different voices to see what they can bring to the music.
Back in 2008, Bro introduced a nonet that was documented on the live-recording White Rainbow
(Loveland Records, 2008). Many of the musicians that were present at that time are also a part of Bro's tentet whose release, Hymnotic/Salmodisk
, takes the large format into the studio to create a lush soundscape that finally does justice to the many nuances in the group.
The sound of the group is overwhelming. There are two drummers, Kresten Osgood
and Jakob Høyer, no less than three bassists, Thomas Morgan
, Anders Christensen
and Nicolai Munch-Hansen, and a reed-section with Jesper Zeuthen
, Andrew D'Angelo
and Chris Speed
. This massive unit is supplemented by Nikolaj Torp Larsen on keyboard and Bro on guitar, but there is one more vital voice, the Danish poet Peter Laugesen.
It might come as a surprise to some that Bro would bring an author into his universe, but compositions with names like "Laxness" and "Hamsun," references to the Nordic authors Halldór Laxness and Knut Hamsun, have indicated a literary interest earlier on. Bro also appeared as a sideman on Danish saxophonist Christian Vuust's album Strøm
(Aero Music, 2009) where Laugesen was featured as well.
Laugesen is a prominent voice on the Danish literary scene. His literary heritage is connected to the Beat Generation and he could be characterized as a Danish Lawrence Ferlinghetti. His golden, oak-aged voice is music in itself as it muses on the complexity of time, nature, words, jazz and life. Laugesen is a jazz poet and he is perfectly at home in this context with Bro.
The album begins with an Albert Ayler
-esque saxophone fanfare and subtle drum thunder before a spacy keyboard and guitar lines enter, and then Laugesen speaks with his rhythmical poetry, letting words flow in glowing arabesques. On "Visne blade og sokker," he recites his lines between the complex and earthy tapestry of wooden basslines. However, Laugesen is not present on all tracks. "Daybreak," "I do remember," "Exploding suns" and "Sadness is the gladdest way to feel" are all strong instrumental tracks with polyphonic sophistication, arresting rhythms and solos.
It is the ability to combine hummable, folk-like melodies with avant-garde explosions and subtle sound poetry that makes Hymnotic/Salmodisk
so special. The album is a widescreen vision from Jakob Bro in the company of an abundance of talent. It feels like a musical catharsis that dares to speak about all aspects of life.
Note: The album is released as a free download through Jakob Bro's website: http://jakobbro.com/web/album/hymnotic-salmodisk/ but is also available as a limited vinyl edition.