For fifteen years Magnus Öström was the drummer with the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, known to many as e.s.t. For much of that time e.s.t. was one of the most successful jazz bands in the world, an innovative yet accessible group that seemed poised for ever greater success. When Svensson died in a diving accident in June 2008 both Öström and bassist Dan Berglund took time out. Öström returned to recording in late 2010, releasing Thread Of Life (ACT Music) the following year. It was a beautiful album, but not always an easy one to listen to. Nor, as Öström acknowledged, was it an easy one to make.
Searching For Jupiter is his second solo album. Like its predecessor it mixes jazz, electronica and progressive rock influences. Once again it features guitarist Andreas Hourdakis and bassist Thobias Gabrielson, although Daniel Karlsson has replaced Gustaf Karlof on piano. Öström is definitely the man in charge: composer, producer, occasional keyboard player and vocaliser. Berglund and Pat Metheny guested on the first album but this one keeps to the core quarteta band that's more than strong enough to retain the attention on its own.
For some of the time Searching For Jupiter is still characterized by Thread Of Life's plaintive, meditative, quality but this time the overall mood is ultimately more optimistic. There's less emotional tension, more positivity, a sense of moving forward.
"The Moon (And The Air It Moves)" sets the mood: a graceful, slow, tune on which Karlsson's piano chords and Hourdakis' lighter guitar phrases complement each other to create a beautifully atmospheric number. "Dancing At The Dutchtreat" is the album's most joyous tune. Öström's drumming is tough, propelling the rhythm and giving Hourdakis a foundation for one of his longest and most dynamic solos.
In between these two extremes are brooding, mysterious tunes such as "Hour Of The Wolf," the pretty, upbeat "Through The Sun" and "Happy And The Fall" and the cinematic "Searching For Jupiter." The musical scope is impressive, the quality of playing even more so. This is not, as some may suggest, an attempt to recreate the "e.s.t. sound" of the past. This is Öström's band, carving its own rewarding path towards the future.
The Moon (And The Air It Moves); Dancing At The Dutchtreat; Mary Jane Doesn't Live Here Anymore; Searching For Jupiter; Hour Of The Wolf; Through The Sun; Happy And The Fall; Jules And Jim's Last Voyage; At The End Of Eternity.
Magnus Öström: drums, percussion, vocal, keyboards; Andreas Hourdakis: guitar, banjo; Daniel Karlsson: piano, keyboards; Thobias Gabrielson: electric bass, bass synthesizer.
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