Since they released their debut, Enhed (Raske Plader, 2013), Danish bassist Jonathan Bremer and pianist Morten McCoy have been quietly crafting their own sound, and their fourth album, Utopia, marks a new beginning for the duo simply billed as Bremer/McCoy.
The difference this time is that David Byrne's renowned Luaka Bop label has picked up the album for release, consequently a big breakthrough might be around the corner. If so, it is going to be a quiet revolution. The universe of Bremer/McCoy relies on subtle acoustic melodies with a jazzy ambient feeling. The classical impressionism of Erik Satie and Gabriel Faure is also felt in the music. Another reference is the airy Scandinavian folk-lyricism of Swedish pianist, Jan Johansson, whose influence can be heard on the opening track "Åben Bog" (Open Book).
But make no mistake, Bremer and McCoy are not nostalgic followers of Johansson, as the ethereally funky Wurlitzer on "Bjerget" (The Mountain) makes clear. They have their own thing going, and each song creates a singular space with different textures and details, for instance the echoing tape delays and autumnal strings on "Tusmørke" (Twilight) and the bowed bass and unexpected Ethiopian harmonies on "Dråber" (Drops).
The core of the album remains Bremer's acoustic bass which sways gently like the soothing movement of being lulled into sleep, while McCoy's translucent piano figures light up the sky. It could be dangerously close to a generic new age-aesthetic, but the duo creates its own utopia where the pregnant melodies make sure that the music doesn't drift into oblivion. Instead, each song follows the thread of a narrative which is also reflected by the titles. Thus, "Solopgang" (Sunrise) is followed by "Vågner" (Wakes) and "Op" (Up).
The music sometimes signals the beginning of a new day, but it could also be the end of a day or the moment when it is time to rest. Call it ambient folk-jazz or lullabies for modern times. Bremer and McCoy are on to something and it works.
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