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Gunhild Seim: Story Water

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Story Water is the most ambitious achievement of Norwegian trumpeter Gunhild Seim. It is a musical fantasy inspired by texts about the universes of dreams and death, commissioned by the VossaJazz Festival and recorded live at the festival's opening day in March 2012.

Seim expands her modern jazz-based musical language, as was documented before with her Time Jungle band, including a collaboration with acclaimed pianist Marilyn Crispell, (Elephant Wings, Drollehålå, 2012). With a new, unconventional cast of collaborators, she incorporates elements influenced by the progressive rock, noisy electronics, metal and even folk singer-songwriter songs. The texts of this work written by Sufi poet Jalal ad-din Rumi, Canadian singer-songwriter Sienna Dahlen, Edgar Allan Poe, and English nursery rhyme, are sung by singer-songwriter Trym Bjønnes. During the live performance Visual artist Birk Nygaard used sound sources to control his projections which he calls a "light-organ" and later designed the cover of the album.

Baritone saxophonist Petter Frost Fadnes and drummer Ståle Birkeland are responsible to the tight, rhythmic envelope of the songs. Bjønnes is gifted with warm vocals and his evocative, emotional delivery of the enigmatic texts leaves enough time to its messages to immerse. Seim and the ensemble enrich the texts and charge them with intense, often dreamy, highly cinematic textures that mirror beautifully the enigmatic texts. The instrumental interludes, including the ones within the songs, stress the bold musical vision of this ensemble. The complex arrangements weave acoustic sounds organically with experimental, electronic ones, fragile melodies with disturbing noises, and nuanced arranged parts that blend within a chaotic, and fiery improvisation.

Tough the arrangement are detailed and complex this work is still accessible, even when the texts are demanding. Rumi's title song with the lines: "A story is like water / that you heat for your bath... Enjoy this being washed / with a secret we sometimes know / and than not," relies on hypnotic, funky pulse. This infectious pulse is intensified on the following Dahlen's song, "Diary," with Bjønnes reserved delivery of the heartbreaking wish of a lonely girl whose body was desecrated to drown in sleep till Christmas. Guitarist Vidar Schanche fragile guitar dances and emphasizes the mysterious text of Poe, "A dream within a dream" and its suggestive delivery.

A fantastic, visionary musical concept that deserves to be staged again and again.

Track Listing: Intro; Who says words with my mouth; Story Water; Diary; Interlude I; Pale Sunlight; Interlude II; A dream within a dream; Drum; Interlude III; Breath; Little Boy Blue.

Personnel: Trym Bjønnes: vocals, guitar; Gunhild Seim: trumpet, percussion, vocals; Klaus Holm: clarinet, baritone saxophone; Petter Frost Fadnes: c-mel saxophone, baritone saxophone; Vidar Schanche: guitars, vocals; Ståle Birkeland: drums, electronics, vocals; Birk Nygaard: visuals.

Title: Story Water | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Drolleholå Music


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