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

Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Live At Blues Alley" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Blues Alley
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 13, 2016
Read "Roots Of Unity" CD/LP/Track Review Roots Of Unity
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "As it Was" CD/LP/Track Review As it Was
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 18, 2016
Read "Skylines" CD/LP/Track Review Skylines
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Mortality" CD/LP/Track Review Mortality
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!