The End emerge as a massive collaboration among Norwegian baritone saxophonist Kjetil Møster, Swedish baritone sax hooligan Mats Gustafsson, Norwegian noise-jazz guitarist Anders Hana, the San Francisco-based avant-rock band Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier and miraculous singer Sofia Jernberg.
The quintet's debut "Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen" manages to grasp several musical traditions. It sounds like a child that was born from extramarital affairs of New York no-wave, noise rock and free/avant-garde jazz. Such a collision between the aforementioned genres is not an innovation. We had witnessed Last Exit, The Flying Luttenbachers, Caspar Brötzmann Massaker projects in the past; nowadays many listeners adore Zu and some other bands. But all those bands and projects somehow shape their own aesthetic with unique sonic approaches. So does The End.
"Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen" has no bassist at all. Nevertheless, it would be an unforgivable exaggeration to talk about the lack of a bass line. Anders Hana's baritone guitar together with the Møster and Gustafson baritone sax (they play tenor saxophones as well) duo provide enough low range sound to listeners' earsenough in the context of this particular album.
The content of The End debut album is neither totally improvised nor strictly composed. It is clear that compositions like "Vemod" or the second part of "Don't Wait" have been written more, compared to others. But "Translated Slaughter" or "Both Sides Out" seem to be more improvised and gravitate towards a noisy soundscape aesthetic and abandon the elements of traditional music.
The biggest compliments go to Jernberg and her phenomenal vocal skills. If you have heard her with Fire! Orchestra or in a duo with Alexander Hawkins you definitely know how impressive she is. "Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen" confirms her remarkable talent one more time. Rumbling, roaring, wheezing, whispering, inhale/exhale techniques and clean vocal parts as well make you wonder and ask yourself whether it is human or some kind of effects. By the way, it is unclear whether the collective had such a strategy, but it seems that musical dramaturgy has been knitted around her. If Sofia goes crescendo or diminuendo, colleagues follow her immediately. So, she is a keystone of compositions.
"Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen" is not an easy one. It is full of contradictions between harsh and gentle, beautiful and ugly, loudness and silence. But finally this album merges these opposite sides into a unique sonic and spiritual experience that transforms a black-and-white film into a colourful one.
Svårmod; Vemod; Translated Slaughter; Don't Wait; Rich And Poor; Both Sides Out
Kjetil Møster: bartione and tenor saxophones; Mats Gustafsson: baritone and tenor saxophones, electronics; Sofia Jernberg: voice; Anders Hana: baritone guitar; Greg Saunier: drums and voice