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Arguably, this 2008 release stands as one of the more comprehensive and, plainly speaking, finest albums this avant-garde Norwegian record label has issued thus far.
However, that statement unto itself might seem a bit bold, especially when considering its impressive discography and largely exuberant acceptance from global avant-jazz and New Music aficionados. With this double duo piano and drums lineup, the band shows how the sky's the limit.
Recognized for his recordings for ECM Records, pianist Jon Balke augments the band sound with electronics-based treatments. During several passages the ensemble conjures up lucid imagery that is apt to take the listener on a mind-bending journey that seemingly defies elements of time and space. Reference points are hard to come by where the music assumes variable metrics and shapes. Think of free-form minimalist type sound-sculpting that is synchronized with ethereal backdrops.
The foursome executes spacey and harrowing frameworks marked by Balke and pianist Kenneth Karlsson's use of depth to coincide with their animated single note flurries. And they project lots of timbre amid a surfeit of unanticipated shifts in direction, often-enamored by the percussionists' booming drum hits, jangling bells and asymmetrical fills.
On the album's finale "Side Shadow," Balke and Karlsson render a series of oscillating piano and electronics patterns atop the percussionists' swarming metrics. It all casts a rather eerie effect as the music segues into a great void. Overall, the quartet parlays expressionism into many sub-plots and underlying motifs as if they're spinning a huge geometrical web that transcends any strict sense of musical normalcy. It's a powerful, yet daintily outlined trek that should offer gobs of stimulation to one's neural network.
Track Listing: Wide red; Di fianco; Sostenuto; Partita - Allemande I; Partita - Digression; Partita - Allemande II; Partita - Courtante; Partita - Sarabande; Partita - Gigue; Panopticon; Seven perspectives - point zero; Seven perspectives - point one; Seven perspectives - point two; Seven perspectives - point three; Seven perspectives - point five; Seven perspectives - point six; Seven perspectives - point seven; Side shadow; Vanishing point.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.