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Thomas Albæk Jakobsen's Flux: Voyager

Dan Bilawsky By

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Tranquil tidings, flowing gestures, sweeping statements, curious encounters, and triumphant displays are all incorporated into the music of Danish drummer Thomas Albæk Jakobsen's FLUX. For the band's second album, following Relationships (Self Produced, 2013), Jakobsen sought to highlight the group's development during the two year span between records. That aspect of the work is something that musicians in the band and their longtime fans will likely appreciate. But for those unfamiliar with this outfit and its debut recording, Voyager is a more than sufficient introduction.

Over the course of eight originals, Jakobsen and his countrymen—multi-reedist Ole Visby, guitarist Michael Moller Porsborg, pianist Soren Moller, and bassist Kenneth Dahl Knudsen—create music that speaks with sincerity and directness. The work often projects itself in simple ways, but there's veiled complexity behind these creations. Sometimes that sophistication can be uncovered in the way the music takes on certain dimensions or shows with a certain sheen; elsewhere, it's the soloists who carry the day and create high art from basic ingredients.

There's no set formula here, and each piece has its own tales to tell. "Spirit Soul" says it all with its title, though the story is also in the development; "Ballad," which benefits from Moller's soloing, isn't as cut and dry as its name may imply; "Departure," which starts with shadows and breathy sounds before harnessing light, features some standout work from Knudsen and Visby; and "Muggy Dusk" is at the edge of darkness, with Visby's bass clarinet and Porsborg's guitar slowly traversing a desolate landscape. The second half of the album, with the controlled enthusiasm of "ParaJive," the trippy electro-swirl of "Bricks," the optimism of "Scenery," and the uncertain yet prayerful "Long Johns," proves to be just as interesting.

In several places there's an oh-so-obvious literal quality connected to the way the music reflects its name. It's not out of the realm of possibility to suggest that Jakobsen shaped his music to fit a certain word, idea, or phrase, but the more likely scenario is that he just found the right word(s) to reflect the music that was already created. Regardless, it all manages to pull you in. The pieces on Voyager convey a wide range of emotions while also focusing on the strong connection between these five musicians. It's all of a piece, yet, in keeping with the group's name, completely in flux.

Track Listing: Spirit Soul; Ballad; Departure; Muggy Dusk; ParaJive; Bricks; Scenery; Long Johns.

Personnel: Ole Visby: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Michael Moller Porsborg: guitar; Soren Moller: piano, Rhodes; Kenneth Dahl Knudsen: bass; Thomas Albæk Jakobsen: drums, percussion, electronic effects.

Title: Voyager | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced


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