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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Christian Wallumrod - The Zoo Is Far (ECM, 2007) ***½

With "The Zoo Is Far", pianist Christian Wallumrod, brings a strange mixture of modern classical music and free improvization with touches of jazz. The overall effect is very cinematic. Despite the relatively limited band, it sounds very orchestral, but with the contradictory effect that the pieces are extremely short, between 45 seconds and several minutes, creating sound sculptures, which are formed, and then disappear, there is no expansion, no elaboration, just orchestral snippets of music, which are sometimes baroque, sometimes modern classical, sometimes jazzy. The overall effect is unusual, but always melodic, never atonal. The overall aesthetic effect is more imporant than the feelings which are created. The musicianship is great, but the individual artists collaborate only for the overall effect, solos are rare. It's gentle, compelling, medieval, yet very 21st Century at the same time. With Christian Wallumrød on piano, harmonium, toy piano; Arve Henriksen on trumpet; Gjermund Larsen on violin, Hardanger fiddle, viola; Tanja Orning on cello; Giovanna Pessi on Baroque harp; Per Oddvar Johansen on drums, percussion and glockenspiel. The greatest thing about this album is that Wallumrod creates a totally new aesthetic form, something unusual, but definitely worth hearing.