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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Joel Grip, Niklas Barnö, Didier Lasserre - Snus (Ayler, 2009) ****

For ignorants (1) like me : snus is a Swedish kind of chewing tobacco. Unlike snuff, it is steam-cured rather than fire-cured, it is not fermented and contains no added sugar. Typically it does not result in the need for spitting, which offers huge social and practical advantages. The sale of snus is illegal in the European Union, but well, it's too popular for the Swedes to take that detail into account.

For ignorants (2) like me: snus is also the debut release of this great trio, with Niklas Barnö on trumpet, Joel Grip on bass and Didier Lasserre on drums. Swedish musicians Grip and Barnö have regularly played together before, but this is their first album with French master drummer. The fully improvised performance was recorded live at  l'Atelier Tampon-Ramier, Paris, France in June of last year. From the very beginning, the three musicians dive in head-first, with a rawness and directness that is absolutely appealing. No need for melody or rhythmic structure, just strings of sounds weaving through each other, full of energy, enthusiasm and intensity, using the range of their instruments to the full, and often going beyond. Even on the slower tracks, like "Water", the tension remains, because the three musicians listen quite well to each other and build the pieces really as a joint creation. Despite the lack of clear anchor points, and its level of abstraction, the performance has its warm components, some bluesy references, some sensitive moments, and that is the result of their musical approach, which is not an amalgamation of sounds, but a progressive evolution of phrases and moods. Just like the chewing tobacco it refers to: this music is "not fermented and has no added sugar", but it is tasteful, juicy and authentic.

The track titles read like the ingredient list of "snus", embedded between the additives "E1520", which is a tobacco humectant, and "E500" which is an acidity regulator. Reasons enough to enjoy!

Listen to samples : E1520, Aroma, and E500.

Buy from Instantjazz.

© stef


AndersB said...

Snus is not chewed. It's put under your lip.
It is illegal in the EU but not in Sweden. This was one of the big questions when Sweden negotiated about an entry into the EU and we got our exception.

Stef said...

Thanks Anders,

We learn more each day!

All the best