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Moskus: Mirakler

Gareth Thompson By

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Not every picture paints a thousand words, but some are more symbolic than others. Take the cover of Moskus's new album, which depicts a hip young hiker facing a two-horned beast in the wilderness. But is the animal real, a mere figment, or even an applied image? And what of that rock pile between them, painted a rather lurid yellow?

This fourth album from the Norwegian trio also poses many questions. The first being, what the heck are they trying to tell us? Nominated for two jazz Grammys in their homeland, Moskus create mercurial music from ideas, memories and emotions. Listening to Mirakler, you become like our aforesaid mountain hiker; unsure of what is being experienced, waiting for reality to kick in.

Mirakler translates into Miracles, but the band's previous records also sported such cryptic titles as "Master Thief" and "Hymn Bicycle." There's nothing orthodox about the Moskus approach to piano, bass and drums either. Anja Lauvdal is as likely to use a Korg MS10 as the grand or upright piano. Hans Hulbækmo might be the percussionist, but he also pitches in with recorder, casio and musical saw. The result is a lo-fi modernism blended with old-time grace.

Opening keyboard cut "Anslag" feels quietly hymnal, as if we're filing into some remote wooden church. The bass and percussion tiptoe in, hardly daring to impose yet. Thus the sermon begins, then things really liven up with the oompah jazz-folk of "Irsk setter." Already we have one improvised tune and another composed number. Much of Mirakler is the former, yet both modes depend on inspiration striking. "Sang til C" shows plenty of this, with a wheezy harmonium effect over pretty piano splashes. We get minimalist doodlings on "Eventyrdagene," vibraphone amid sparky pop synths on "Voyager," and the delicate breaths of "En natt." "Jailhouse art music" has a rumbling undercurrent and (" ,) brings sparse Yamaha over a sweetly whining musical saw.

You sense this band are having fun, both within themselves and with our expectations. Yet no matter which piano they might use or forgo, Moskus offer us something musically grand and spiritually upright.

Track Listing: Anslag; Irsk setter; Sang til C; Eventyrdagene; Voyager; Ludwig XIV, Bloero blues; Haiku; Spurte hva det var; Min venns skaperverk; Jailhouse art music; (“ ,); En natt.

Personnel: Anja Lauvdal: grand piano, uptight piano, MS10, YamahaDX100, Hammond organ, electric organ; Hans Hulbækmo: drums, percussion, vibraphone, recorder, casio MT-65, electric organ, musical saw; Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson: double bass.

Title: Mirakler | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Hubro Records

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