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Monday, September 20, 2010

Frode Gjerstad, Skaset, Grenager, Tafjord, Mølstad, Moe - Sekstett (Conrad Sound, 2010) ****

Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, here on clarinet, has many faces and has always been open to innovative approaches. On his latest albums he moved away from his former lyrical free jazz playing into more short bursts free improv, but on this album he ventures into totally new realms: those of the minimalist soundscapers or soundscrapers, in the "tradition" of AMM. He is accompanied by fellow countrymen  Håvard Skaset on guitars, Lene Grenager on cello, Hilde Sofie Tafjord on French horn, Børre Mølstad on tuba, Guro Skumsnes Moe on double bass.

All musicians manage to create sounds unknown to their instruments, through the use of lots of extended techniques, resulting in weird sonic environments with their own dynamics and tensions. The music is entirely acoustic and at more than one moment you wonder how these sounds have come to life : scraping hollow howls alternated by sustained and stretched overtones on all instruments, or percussive effects when no percussion is in the line-up.

Beyond that surprise, there is the fantastic joy of the end result, that is partly sad, partly gloomy, sometimes joyful, yet always sensitive and precise, full with gravitas. As is the case with the subgenre, there is no real soloing, but a communal creation of music. It has an authentic purity that is hard to describe.

Somehow, the future of music is here ...

Listen and download from eMusic.

© stef