8

Pixel: Reminder

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Pixel: Reminder When a band is described as a "powerhouse indie-jazz ensemble" it's a surprise when the first tune on its debut release is a gentle and rather moving solo performance by the band's vocalist and double bassist. "Prelude," the tune in question, demonstrates the more reflective side of Pixel, a Norwegian quartet whose approach certainly includes powerhouse indie-jazz, but goes far wider than that. Pixel's driving force is the aforementioned vocalist, bassist and songwriter Ellen Andrea Wang, a graduate of the Norwegian Academy Of Music. Wang and her fellow band members were all in their mid-20s when they recorded Reminder in May, 2011, their youthful exuberance tempered by technical ability and a keen awareness of their musical antecedents.

Pixel takes Gerry Mulligan and Ornette Coleman's iconic quartets of as its points of reference from a jazz perspective, luxuriating in the freedom to be had from the absence of a chordal instrument. "Waltz 1" is the most obvious link to these ensembles, a slow, relaxed, duet between Harald Lassen's warm-toned tenor sax and Wang's sparse double bass. "Hvor Ble Den Av?" is equally spacious and considered, but with a coolness closer to fellow Scandinavians such as trumpeter Verneri Pohjola than to Mulligan's West Coast cool. Trumpeter Jonas Kilmork Vemøy is the standout player on this tune; like Pohjola, he is able to conjure up a sweeping, cinematic landscape from just a few notes. Half way through the tune Wang enters with a wordless vocal that matches her strong, tough, bass line for much of the time, then shifts to a softer more romantic tone which mirrors Vemøy's sound.

On "Home," the band retains a primarily jazz influence but with a more contemporary feel—there's something of the approach of label mates Led Bib in the tune, with Wang's loping riff sounding akin to the British quartet's bassist, Liran Donin. The band also takes inspiration from pop and rock, with catchy, immediate, melodies, strong lyrical narrative, and economy (only "Hvor Ble Den Av?" lasts longer than 5 minutes). If the beauty in Pixel's work comes from its jazz influences, then the energy and fun comes from its rock and pop sensibilities.

The high point of Reminder, in terms of energy and groove, is "Call Me." While it shares the same overt request as Blondie's pop classic, this song finds the singer in a much more belligerent mood—not so much a "please call me" as a "call me or else." Wang and drummer Jon Audun Baar also show themselves to be a fearsome rhythm section.

Contrasting her tough and fierce delivery on "Call Me," Wang exhibits a much gentler vocal sound on "Wake Up"—her innocent yet romantic voice in the style of Sweden's Stina Nordenstam—while the combination of Wang's multi-tracked vocal and Lassen's soprano saxophone is edgier on the slinky, discomforting "I Hang."

Reminder is an impressive first outing. Pixel bring a unique creative mix to the scene: difficult music to categorize, easy music to enjoy.

Track Listing: Prelude; Home; Esset; Call Me; She Knows; Wake Up; Waltz 1; Hvor Ble Den Av?; I Hang; An Apple In The Country Hill.

Personnel: Ellen Andrea Wang: vocals, double bass; Harald Lassen: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, background vocal; Jonas Kilmork Vemøy: trumpet, background vocal; Jon Audun Baar: drums, percussion, background vocal.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "New Focus On Song" CD/LP/Track Review New Focus On Song
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Westering Home" CD/LP/Track Review Westering Home
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 7, 2016
Read "The Rhythm Method" CD/LP/Track Review The Rhythm Method
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Christmastime in New Orleans" CD/LP/Track Review Christmastime in New Orleans
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Shovel Down" CD/LP/Track Review Shovel Down
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!