Although pianist Lisa Ullen, bassist Elsa Bergman and drummer Anna Lund supply a formidable bottom end to the surging horn polyphony of Anna Hogberg's Attack, on Space they find an alternative means to convey emotion and rapport through collective improvisation. Across five studio tracks, the Swedish threesome practices an egalitarian creed which does not privilege any one instrument over another. It is not an unfamiliar setting. Ullén and Bergman featured in a co-operative which adopted a similar approach on Festen (Clean Feed, 2016) while Lund takes to the unbounded terrain like a duck to water.
Although the piano trio is a crowded field, they carve out a distinct niche for themselves, one in which the instruments retain their sonic signatures but the dialogue avoids overt melody or fixed meter, and unfolds unconstrained by a sense of narrative direction, being reminiscent at times of other similarly arrayed outfits such as Farmers By Nature (with Craig Taborn, William Parker and Gerald Cleaver) or Eve Risser's En Corps (with Benjamin Duboc and Edward Perraud). Consequently, a percussive vibe often holds sway, particularly when Ullén utilizes subtle preparations to her piano for sudden outbursts of unusual tonality in "Come Together," or manifests a minimalist influence from either tolling chords on "Joint Attention" or rippling figures on "Circle Of Security."
Bergman's full-toned bass seems slightly lost in the mix, but she nonetheless makes an impact on "Tempest" as the piece moves from spacious ballad, with her wavering bowed buzz prominent, to animated exchanges distinguished by her bold swipes and oblique pizzicato, alongside Lund's clattering flare-ups and Ullén's energetic waves of evenly articulated notes which bring Cecil Taylor to mind. Everyone is at their most assertive on the final "Core," with Lund pushing, Ullén with a clear idea of where she is going, and Bergman in closely related counterpoint. But most importantly, they finish where they started, in rewarding consort.
Come Together; Circle Of Security; Joint Attention; Tempest; Core.
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