13

Food: Mercurial Balm

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Food: Mercurial Balm In their sophomore outing on the ECM label, Food continues their shape-shifting evolution, both in personnel and musical outcomes. With influences of jazz, electronica and world music, UK saxophonist Iain Ballamy and Norwegian percussionist Thomas Strønen remain as the nucleus of a group that has managed to reinvent itself with each of its seven releases. Through their fruition from a standing quartet to an augmented duo, there has been an ethereal consistency in context and quality. Mercurial Balm is something of a stylistic hybrid of previous Food outings; different, yet familiar and consistently interesting.

In contrast to their previous album, a significant point of departure on Mercurial Balm is the overall absence of trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer who appears only on one track. Molvær—who succeeded fellow Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen—was a prevailing influence in Food's outstanding Quiet Inlet (ECM, 2010). That collection took a distinctly jazz oriented turn compared to the experimentation of earlier works such as Molecular Gastronomy (Rune Grammofon, 2008) and Last Supper (Rune Grammofon, 2004). Mercurial Balm doesn't follow the previous formula as this outing includes even more electronic contributors in the dual roles of alternating guitarists Christian Fennesz and Eivind Aarset.

Despite the ongoing changes in Food's personnel, the music remains verdant and animated with Ballamy's role more frequently emphasized through pronounced melodic lines that counter Strønen's layers of pulsation and ethereal grooves. Nowhere is the oxymoronic album title more appropriate than in the transition from "Astral" to "Moonpie." On the former, Strønen initiates a slow build from tribal percussion to a more complex mélange of subdued electronic effects and setting for Ballamy's finest work. "Moonpie" follows with the sole—but haunting and inspired—contribution from Molvær.

Cross-genre compositions work best when they are additive; a tenor sax and synthesizer attaching to each other rather than endlessly competing. Ballamy and Strønen have always done very well at skirting around musical definitions and on Mercurial Balm they continue to succeed at raising consciousness through very transformational pieces.


Track Listing: Nebular; Celestial Food; Ascendant; Phase; Astral; Moonpie; Chanterelle; Mercurial Balm; Magnetosphere; Galactic Roll.

Personnel: Thomas Strønen: drums, electronics; Iain Ballamy: saxophones, electronics; Christian Fennesz: guitar and electronics (1-6, 12); Eivind Aarset: guitar and electronics (7-9); Prakash Sontakke: slide guitar and vocal (7-9); Nils Petter Molvær: trumpet (6).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: ECM Records


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Picking Order" CD/LP/Track Review Picking Order
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2016
Read "Love Song" CD/LP/Track Review Love Song
by Tyran Grillo
Published: September 19, 2016
Read "PointCounterPoint" CD/LP/Track Review PointCounterPoint
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 7, 2016
Read "Transparent Water" CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Beauty Within" CD/LP/Track Review Beauty Within
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 3, 2016
Read "Nine Thoughts For One Word" CD/LP/Track Review Nine Thoughts For One Word
by John Ephland
Published: October 1, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!