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Girls in Airports: Migration

Jakob Baekgaard By

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The view of the world is not greater than the eyes of the beholder and it is easy to remain bound to a particular culture and musical tradition, trying to find safety in familiar sounds. Beauty, however, is often found in the unexpected and unknown and like true musical travelers; Danish group Girls in Airports has taken a different path than most of its Nordic peers, exploring the warm and vibrant sounds of Africa.

Migration, the group's second album, delves deeper into the aesthetic territory cultivated on its eponymous 2010 debut, expanding its craft with irresistible melodies and bouncing rhythms.

Percussionist Victor Dybbroe is a new addition to the group, and his arsenal of exotic instruments enhances the rich texture of the compositions, bringing in the organic sounds of wood, metal, glass and skin. Together with the insistent rhythms of drummer Mads Forsby, a polyphonic sheet of sound is created that balances between deep grooves and ethereal landscapes.

The tight interplay between saxophonists Martin Stender and Lars Greve remains at the heart of the group's sound, their vocabulary extending from the breezy lyricism of "Need a Light" to the throaty blasts of the funky "Pirates and Tankers," which merges a laidback Ethiopian groove, in the key of Mulatu Astatke, with the spiritual intensity of Pharoah Sanders.

While the group retains much of its signature sound, combining Nordic melancholy and African and Eastern influences, the real growth lies in the ambitions of the compositions. The stunning, seven-minute epic of "Children's Temple" transforms from a whispering lullaby that gradually builds up tension through a hazy organ drone to a full-fledged ritual dance of saxophones and chimes, only to end in an ambient sea of keyboards and woodwinds.

Migration provides a remarkable musical journey through different corners of the world, but while the group manages to take in influences from numerous cultures, it still creates its own original expression. A blueprint for great things to come, Migration is also a work of art in its own right, documenting some of the greatest talents on the Danish jazz scene.

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