1

Atomic: Pet Variations

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
The Scandinavian supergroup Atomic has always pushed back against "tradition," be it the customary sound of Nordic jazz or—maybe more importantly—what most believe to be the avant-garde. Each member has a thriving career outside the quintet: bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten with The Young Mothers, The Thing, Rempis Percussion Quartet, and his own trio and quartets, drummer Hans Hulbækmo with Moskus, pianist Håvard Wiik with Ken Vandermark and the Wiik Trio, saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist's work with Gard Nilssen's Acoustic Unity and Territory Band(s), and Magnus Broo with Angles, IPA. A unique synergism occurs when they come together to tour and record, which they have done since 2000. Over a dozen recordings, from Feet Music (Jazzland, 2001) to their penultimate Six Easy Pieces (Odin, 2017), Atomic's sound successfully melds brainy music with discerning energy. "Sleepy Scandinavian jazz" is not an accurate descriptor.

With Pet Variations, the quintet has changed directions a bit. Where their previous recordings presented all original material, here they perform eight covers. But not just any eight. Besides Brian Wilson's "Pet Sounds," the music includes French composers Olivier Messiaen ("Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus") and Edgard Varèse ("Un Grand Sommeil Noir"), Steve Lacy ("Art"), Alexander von Schlippenbach ("Inri"), Jimmy Giuffre ("Cry Want"), Carla Bley ("Walking Woman"), and Jan Garbarek ("Karin's Mode").

Now that is certainly stretching far and wide for inspiration! Not to worry; this is Atomic's music. The opening track "Pet Variations / Pet Sound" fuses the Beach Boys' studio sound with Wiik's exhilarated stylings. It's disciplined, yet rowdy. So are many of the other tracks. Bley's "Walking Woman" has a bit too much to drink, with Ljungkvist's saxophone and Wiik's piano teetering in an unbalanced walk until the stumble is handed off to Broo and Flaten. The Messiaen and Varèse compositions are soulful, reflective hymns performed with suppleness and grace befitting the composers. The highlights are "Art" and "Cry Want," both emphasizing the patience and musicianship of this quintet. This may be a supergroup, but there are no spotlight-hogging prima donnas.

Track Listing: Pet Variations/Pet Sounds; Art; Walking Woman; Un Grand Sommeil Noir; Cry Want; Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus; Inri; Karin’s Mode.

Personnel: Fredrik Ljungkvist: saxophone, clarinet; Magnus Broo: trumpet; Håvard Wiik: piano; Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: bass; Hans Hulbækmo: drums.

Title: Pet Variations | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Odin Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Liner Notes
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Pet Variations

Pet Variations

Odin Records
2019

buy
Six Easy Pieces

Six Easy Pieces

Odin Records
2017

buy
Lucidity

Lucidity

Jazzland Recordings
2015

buy
Retrograde

Retrograde

Jazzland Recordings
2008

buy
Happy New Ears!

Happy New Ears!

Jazzland Recordings
2006

buy
Atomic: The Bikini Tapes

Atomic: The Bikini...

Jazzland Recordings
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read Czech Wishes Album Reviews
Czech Wishes
By Troy Dostert
July 23, 2019
Read More Arriving Album Reviews
More Arriving
By Gareth Thompson
July 23, 2019
Read Wschod Album Reviews
Wschod
By Don Phipps
July 23, 2019
Read Wonderment Album Reviews
Wonderment
By Mike Jurkovic
July 23, 2019
Read Terra Incognita Album Reviews
Terra Incognita
By Karl Ackermann
July 22, 2019
Read Bedroom Tapes Album Reviews
Bedroom Tapes
By John Bricker
July 22, 2019
Read Calenture and Light Leaks Album Reviews
Calenture and Light Leaks
By Don Phipps
July 22, 2019