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Nils Petter Molvaer: Re-Vision

John Kelman By

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The music of Norwegian trumpeter/Nu Jazz progenitor, Nils Petter Molvaer, has always been cinematic. Call it music for a non-existent movie or a film of the mind, Molvaer's albums, beginning with the groundbreaking Khmer (ECM, 1997), have always been about aural landscapes evocative of highly personal imagery and plenty of club-ready grooves. Even in performance, the lighting provided by Tord "Prince of Darkness" Knudsen is intended to provoke the imagination rather than focus attention on the musicians.

It's no surprise, then, that Molvaer has been recruited to provide music for film. His score for the 2005 French film Edy already saw limited release on Molvaer's Sula imprint the same year. Re-Vision culls four pieces from Edy and, by combining them with music from two other films—the 2007 German film Hoppet and 1999 Norwegian documentary Frozen Heart—and one non-soundtrack piece, fashions a continuous 46-minute suite that stands independently as yet another highly visual piece, incorporating Molvaer's ever-expanding frames of reference.

Re-Vision is also Molvaer's first release in years to not primarily feature members of his touring band, but guitarist Eivind Aarset remains a fundamental part of its overall soundscape. Aarset's Sonic Codex (Jazzland, 2007) possesses some of his most overtly recognizable guitar tones in years, but here he's in full-out textural mode; an essential if rarely recognizable sonic contributor to half of Re-Vision's sometimes dense, other times spacious twelve tracks. Punkt Festival artistic co- director/Molvaer touring group member Jan Bang also shows up on the non-score "Perimeters," providing ambient textures and beats which are ethnic rather than dance floor in nature.

Anders Engen and Italian expat Paolo Vinaccia provide live percussion on a handful of tracks, but it's Molvaer—perfecter of the "recording studio as laboratory" concept—who contributes most of Re- Vision's instrumentation. Still, amidst a broad personal palette Molvaer's trumpet remains distinctive, ranging from unaffected and spare on the solo "Trumpet Player in the Backyard" to heavily processed and utilizing a variety of extended techniques on the propulsive "The Beginning" and darker-hued "Alone in the Bathtub."

Molvaer's lyricism continues to be a defining characteristic and, despite the preconception that programming might imply, he clearly remains an improvising musician. There's little in the way of delineated soloing here; instead, his trumpet moves in and out of the mix, a distinctive focal point that helps the music flow seamlessly from one terrain to the next.

Molvaer's sonic bag of tricks isn't restricted solely to his horn and an array of electronic manipulation. On "Visitation," he plays the double-reeded duduk which, in its plaintive, haunting melancholy, recalls Armenian duduk master Djivan Gasparyan's cult classic, I Will Not Be Sad In This World (Opal, 1989).

While many of Molvaer's markers can be found on Re-Vision—techno beats, processed soundscapes, world music references and improvisation—with a purer cinematic purpose it both fits in and stands out amongst Molvaer's growing discography, an album of exceptional beauty, emotional depth and visual resonance.

Track Listing: Torn (from the film Hoppet); The Beginning (from the film Edy); Alone in the Bathtub (from the film Edy); Visitation (from the film Hoppet); Arctic Dub (from the film Frozen Heart); Perimeters; Trumpet Player in the Backyard (from the film Edy); The End (from the film Edy); The Visitor (from the film Hoppet); Azads Theme (from the film Hopper); Decisions (from the film Hoppet); Leaps and Bounds (from the film Hopper).

Personnel: Nils Petter Molvaer: trumpet, all other instruments (1-3, 5, 8, 12), all instruments (10), duduk (4), soundscapes (4, 9, 11); Eivind Aarset: guitars (1-3, 5, 8, 12); Nizamettin Aric: voice (1, 12); Anders Engen: drums (2, 3, 8); Jan Bang: beats and soundscapes (6); Paolo Vinaccia: percussion (12).

Title: Re-Vision | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Sula Records


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