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Steamdome is one of those albums that defies categorisation. It is part future-jazz, part avant-rock, part deep-house, part electronica, part contemporary-classical. It is the follow-up to Norwegian violinist and film composer Ola Kvernberg's whirlwind The Mechanical Fair (Olsen, 2016). That album was memorably pitched as heralding a "mutton western" genre, and the description also fits Steamdome, which winningly references some of Ennio Morricone's compositional tropes. There are a couple of substantial differences between the two albums. The first is that the string section that was the core feature of the earlier album has been replaced by a visceral, groove-centric, three-man drum section. The second is that Morricone appears to have ingested an industrial quantity of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. The music is high-energy, ecstatic and relentlessly intense and, after 50 minutes, borderline exhausting. But it makes for such an exciting ride that any overload is worth enduring. A little more light and shade might even have been detrimentaland, with seven movie scores under his belt, Kvernberg is a sonic alchemist who knows plenty about creating atmosphere. He has collaborated with an impressively diverse range of musicians, including Joshua Redman, Todd Terje, Pat Metheny and Jimmy Carl Black. Not to mention crime writer Jo Nesbo. You have to assume the sustained high-intensity level is deliberateand in the press bumph that accompanied the album, Kvernberg describes the music as "brazen" and "to a much greater degree [than The Mechanical Fair] a physical experience." The band Kvernberg has assembled is outstanding. Guitarist Øyvind Blomstrøm channels his inner Morricone and rocks out to thrilling effect. Hammond B3 player Daniel Buner Formo pushes, prods and adds some fat to Blomstrøm's twangtastic lines. Electric bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen and the drum section led by Erik Nylander (who co-produced with Kvernberg) drives all before it. So turn the stamina dial up to 11 and get ready to harness the G Force.
I love jazz because of Elmer Bernstein's score for the 1957 American film noir Sweet Smell of Success, which I first saw as a teenager in the '70s. As a playwright/screenwriter, I write to music and I'm always looking for ways to incorporate it into my work; the most recent example being Bob Crosby and the Bobcats Big Noise From Winnetka, which became the signature theme for my last stage play The Gift of the Gab
I love jazz because of Elmer Bernstein's score for the 1957 American film noir Sweet Smell of Success, which I first saw as a teenager in the '70s. As a playwright/screenwriter, I write to music and I'm always looking for ways to incorporate it into my work; the most recent example being Bob Crosby and the Bobcats Big Noise From Winnetka, which became the signature theme for my last stage play The Gift of the Gab. My late great pa-in-law--the actor Keith Michell--wins the contest hands down however, as he co-starred in the 1962 movie All Night Long rubbing shoulders with Dave Brubeck, Keith Christie, Bert Courtley, John Dankworth, Ray Dempsey, Allan Ganley, Tubby Hayes, Charles Mingus, Barry Morgan, Kenny Napper, Colin Purbrook and John Scott! Wish I could have been a fly on the wall of that soundstage!
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