Arne Fors: Where Is the Moon?

Jack Bowers By

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There is some music (a lot of it, actually) about which I’m hardly qualified to advance an opinion. Usually, but not always, the music consists of melodies I’ve not heard before played by a single instrumentalist, as is the case with Where Is the Moon? by Swedish pianist Arne Forsén. Most of what Forsén plays is melodic (also quite percussive), and much of it (I assume) is improvised, even though it’s no easy matter to recognize when composition gives way to improvisation. Forsén says he wrote only one of the dozen tunes but his name is on five (including the three–part “Where Is the Moon?”) so one must conclude that the others were “written” (that is, improvised) on the spot as the tape was running (Forsén says as much in the liner notes). Certainly, “Where Is the Moon?” sounds wholly unpremeditated. Whether that’s a good thing is up to the listener to decide. “Moon Mask” has a more well–defined structure but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was written in advance. To be honest, everything on the album sounds like it could have been created on the spur of the moment except perhaps a trio of compositions by one of Forsén’s “first sources of inspiration,” Thelonious Monk, and of course Johnny Green’s enduring standard, “Body and Soul.” Monk’s tunes include “Jackie–ing,” “Monk’s Mood” and “Misterioso.” Forsén moves from there to themes by two of his other role models (both deceased), pianist Lasse Werner (“Drottningholm Ballad,” “Carina”) and bassist Kurt Lindgren (“Wild–Walk”), closing with “Body and Soul.” He plays that one on a “tack–piano” (as he does “Drottningholm Ballad”), and I was eager to read the notes to find out exactly what that is. No luck. All I can say is that it sounds much different from Forsén’s regular piano, with a more harpsichord–like character, but not quite. At least on “Body and Soul” one can ascertain clearly when the formal arrangement ends and improvisation begins. We’ve mentioned some of Forsén’s influences, which should give one an idea of where he’s coming from; as for his purpose, he explains it this way: “You organize sounds that, in interchange with silence, become rhythms. The silence gives space for echoes of what has just been, and expectations [of] what is to come. The sounds create vibrations that are disturbed by other sounds, giving birth to new rhythms that are disturbed by that unpredictable silence from which you never really can escape.” And, as Bing Crosby pointed out in the film High Society, “Now you has Jazz.” But that covers a lot of territory, and one man’s Jazz may be another man’s enigma. While there’s not much that is enigmatic about Where Is the Moon?, it does command one’s undivided attention. And other than to point out that Forsén is beyond any doubt an accomplished musician with a plan, there’s not much else we can reasonably say about it.

Contact: Dragon Records, P.O. Box 4068, SE–102, 62 Stockholm, Sweden. Web site, www.dragonrecords.se; e–mail drarec@dragonrecords.se

Title: Where Is the Moon? | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Dragon Records


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