With its previously released studio albums and spectacular concerts, the Kaleidoscope String Quartet (KSQ) has established itself internationally in recent years. The four Swiss between the late twenties and late thirties transcend the classical string quartet format into new dimensions, leaving behind genre boundaries and at times elicit their instruments from unconventional to unexpected tones. Already on curiosity, her second work published in autumn 2015, fascinated her with striking timbres and charismatic original compositions. All the more they amazed at subsequent performances by virtuosity, dynamic joy of improvisation – and consistent renouncement of any sheet music. The special challenge to play everything by heart “allows a free, risk-taking handling of the musical material and opens up spaces for development and deepening,” explains the first violinist Simon Heggendorn.
The 20th album, and just before the 20th anniversary! The legendary wonder orchestra, dining out of a seemingly inexhaustible pool of madly talented academic musicians under the direction of the renowned Norwegian bassist OLE MORTEN VÅGAN (MOTIF).
There is no boundary between improvisation and composition, between energy and sensibility. Music that relies on curiosity, on high-energy processes filled with a catchy inner logic that is transferred to the listeners as they feel the artists’ urgent enthusiasm.
Ever since Jan Garbarek put Norwegian jazz on the map in the late 1980s, and even more so after the international success of his rigorously ascetic Officium in 1994, the music has acquired a reputation for being, if not entirely lacking in passion, then for being, at least, emotionally detached. More recently, with the emergence of a new generation of Norwegian musicians aligned with the electronica movement, the country’s jazz has, justly or unjustly, acquired a parallel reputation for being obsessed with technology and overly self-referential.
Let’s dive into the extraordinary world of Matanzas. Led by Don The Tiger’s deep, expressive voice, we’ll find out how Cuban bolero can smoothly collide with experimental recording techniques, how the spirit of Andalusian processions can coexist with video game music, and how Catalan sardana can morph into a cubist strain of ambient music. We’ll also encounter murderous sharks, doomed relationships, parrots & pirates, and even a fisherman of the disappearing Aral Sea.
Frode Haltlim a musician known to me from very climatic, romantic and heart-warming recordings for the German ECM label, therefore this concept we are talking about took me completely by surprise, and a wonderful one should I add. The title of that recording kind of announces that the Folk we are about to experience differs from the tradition, but still is the one. Norwegian music had always had that potential in its folk tunes which jazz-men found to be very attractive and vastly explored from middle 50’s.
An opening Hug is the best example of that sounding like the cross of classical tunes taken into collective improvisation by an unusual Tercet of the musicians possessing multiple skills. It is joyful and psycho-motoric, showing how and inventive the use of traditional instruments can change the tune which is supposed to be a dance in the past. It still remains as such in its choruses, where it kept its marinist character, somehow possible to feel and point out.
Miraculous trumpet solo by Hildegunn Oiseth is the cherry on the cake here, especially when it goes to conversation with the harmonium in the pitch.
Trio coming after is wonderfully focused. Lamented voice of Hardanger fiddles played by Erlend Apneseth, musician gifted with an incredibly lyrical sensitivity whose music I already learned to love deeply interacts with selected voices which keep changing as it goes and stay in or go out of the tissue depends on the feeling.
Kingo is sounding to me a bit polyphonic with the monotony of the drums beating in the background on which a warm melody is progressing and gaining more and more dynamics with every phrase. From a gentle thrill it grows to a march like pattern on which a quirky slide guitar glitters gently first to expand into a full rave. Following Haltli’s accordion brings it from frogging like chattering in muffled Rumba into full Bolero blossom. Here again Hildegunn Oiseth’s trumpet comes with perfect improvisation implementing some sort of ecstatic Jewish religious element. None of the pieces here is shy neither lacks an invention, but that one is spectacular.
Coming after Gratar’n with its dark, lurk bass and accordion suspense alike melody is in the same time terrifying and terrific. The gentle beauty of it reminds me arrangements which Michael Nyman used to make in his music composed for Peter Greenaway’s movies. The pace and the feeling of the movement there, with dynamics controlled tidy at the same time and dreamy sense of abeyance.
The overall beauty of this recording puts such a spell over the listener that one can hardly believe that it’s already gone once the last tune ends. It is only five of those marvels there and they hardly lasts 40 minutes, but they all make time stop. Your mind will be floating and the sense of time will be all gone.
As an Avant Folk they passed five stars for be the Big Time, just like Lester Bowie’s Avant Pop did some thirty years back. Another time and another Brass Fantasy here, but the same glimpse of genius.
Drawing on the fractured funk and machine-aesthetic of late Seventies/early Eighties post-punk and No Wave bands, plus the motorik-meets-electro rhythms of ‘Planet Rock’-style hip-hop, the third full album by Oslo-based experimental rock quartet Moon Relay combines pin-sharp, real-time musicianship with a powerful conceptual punch. It’s a world where buzz-saw guitars mesh with disco handclaps on a series of hypnotically immersive instrumental grooves intersected by avant-garde collages of found sound and studio doodles.
Coming tomorrow , all day Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival 2018 marathon is looking really good and full of treasures. Those long time recognised, but still not that easy to hear too often, as well as promising new-comers. For the ticket price I call it a steal! Repertoire wise it is absolutely “Carte d’or” for every improvised (and not only) music fan.
Second Act of the ongoing Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival 2018 are two evenings reserved exclusively for Terry Riley and Gyan Riley, taking place at St. Luke’s Church, a lovely venue with a promising acoustics. I attended first of the two gigs on evening the 7th of October. Both shows had been sold out in just few days in an April, when 1st time advertised. Let’s jump to the substance then.
Probably the greatest attraction of this year festival and unquestioned Mega Star is Terry Riley. Two out of Four only concerts in the UK are taking place here in Brighton in St.Luke’s church, one more in Bristol and one in Manchester. Needles to say it only took two days in April to get it Sold Out.