All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

22

Nils Petter Molvaer: Switch

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Sometimes when forced into change, the best thing to do is toss what came before and shoot for something completely different. With Stian Westerhus leaving trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær's trio after three years of extensive touring and the sole, spectacular document Baboon Moon (Sula, 2011), Molvær's career—defined, since emerging in the mid-'80s with the acclaimed group Masqualero, by a restless drive for evolution and surprisingly regular revolution—was at a crossroad. If there's anything predictable about this spearhead to a new generation of Norwegian musicians with the groundbreaking Khmer (ECM, 1997), however, it's his complete and utter unpredictability. Who'd have imagined, after the largely hardcore Baboon Moon, that Molvær would, after a brief sidestep into electronica with Moritz von Oswald on 1/1 (EmArcy, 2013), return with Switch, whose many focal points include one totally new to his discography: the soothing sound of pedal steel guitar?

Switch isn't all relaxation and pretty melodies, though; with Erland Dahlen returning from Baboon Moon to assume an even greater multi-instrumentalist role—heard playing steel and log drums, blossom bells, xylophone, and electric and baritone guitars as often as his characteristically thundering drums—there's no lack of propulsive forward motion or, as the appropriately titled "The Kit" demonstrates, unrelenting power, his near-tribal sensibility driving Geir Sundstøl's sinuous and, at times, reverse-attack pedal steel, In The Country keyboardist Morten Qvenild's sonic landscapes and Molvær's unmistakable lyricism.

Still, with some subtle references to Khmer's more organic side, Switch's real strength lies in Molvær's shift to a softer approach and greater attention to the natural trumpet tone that's always been at the core of his work, but has often been metamorphosed by his tasteful use of electronics. The four "Intrusion" tracks peppered throughout the recording may largely feature Molvær and the much in- demand Sundstøl—not just in his native Norway, but abroad, too, having contributed to albums and performances ranging from Hanne Hukkelberg to Jimmie Dale Gilmore—but they're also contexts for some of the trumpeter's most drop-dead beautiful playing to date.

They may signal a gentler Molvær, but "Bathroom" still thunders mightily along, bolstered by Dahlen's massive tone and impeccable blend of precision and in- the-moment decision-making. Still, at its core is a melody so spare, so haunting, so anthemic that it could easily become a show-stopper in this group's upcoming European tour dates.

With Molvær finding a new home on the rapidly emergent Okeh label—in just over a year, building a prestigious roster ranging from Bill Frisell and John Medeski to Dhafer Youssef and Sonny Rollins, and reissuing seven titles from Molvær's back catalog including Baboon Moon, 2010's Hamada, 2008's Re-Vision, 2005's er and 2004's Streamer—the trumpeter seems primed to accomplish that to which he's been previously unable: break significantly into the American market.

The inimitably appealing Switch may present a mellower side to this intrepid instrumentalist, but it still possesses all the touchstones—and teeth—that have made him a veritable star virtually everywhere but the USA. Now's the time for this seamless organic/electronic amalgamator to finally garner the American audience he's deserved in the nearly two decades that have passed since the release of Khmer.

Track Listing: Switch; The Kit; Intrusion I; Quiet Corners; Strange Pillows; Intrusion VII; Bathroom; Intrusion VI; Somewhere Shady; Intrusion III.

Personnel: Nils Petter Molvær: trumpet, electronics, voice; Geir Sundstøl: pedal steel guitar, six string bass, National resophonic guitar; Morten Qvenild: hyper piano, programming and electronics; Erland Dahlen: drums, metal plate, log drum, steel drum, drum machine, blossom, bells, xylophone, electric guitar, baritone guitar; Jon Marius Aareskjold: additional programming.

Title: Switch | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Okeh

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Mercury Heart

Mercury Heart

Nils Petter Molvaer
Baboon Moon

Cruel Altitude

Cruel Altitude

Nils Petter Molvaer
Hamada

In Pictures
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Rediscovery
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Buoyancy

Buoyancy

Okeh
2016

buy
Switch

Switch

Okeh
2014

buy
1/1

1/1

EmArcy
2013

buy
Baboon Moon

Baboon Moon

Sula Records
2011

buy
Hamada

Hamada

Sula Records
2010

buy
Hamada

Hamada

Thirsty Ear Recordings
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read A New Beginning CD/LP/Track Review
A New Beginning
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Onyx Noir - Jazz Works For Brass Quintet CD/LP/Track Review
Onyx Noir - Jazz Works For Brass Quintet
by Gareth Thompson
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Triad CD/LP/Track Review
Triad
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Sketches of American Music CD/LP/Track Review
Sketches of American Music
by Doug Collette
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Three Pictures CD/LP/Track Review
Three Pictures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Alive In The East? CD/LP/Track Review
Alive In The East?
by Chris May
Published: June 22, 2018
Read "Silent Voices" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Voices
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Black Times" CD/LP/Track Review Black Times
by Chris May
Published: March 8, 2018
Read "Before, Now & After" CD/LP/Track Review Before, Now & After
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 29, 2018
Read "Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project" CD/LP/Track Review Bluer Than Velvet: The Prysock Project
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 29, 2018
Read "async Remodels" CD/LP/Track Review async Remodels
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Storm" CD/LP/Track Review Storm
by Jim Olin
Published: September 17, 2017