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Monday, November 17, 2014

Vilde Sandve Alnaes & Inga Margrete Aas - Makrofauna (ECM, 2014) ****½

By Stef

Sometimes ECM still amazes. Once my label of preference, it has become a little less adventurous, but then again, when you hear this music, I am forced to revise my opinion. This is adventurous music, performed by Vilde Sandve Alnæs on violin and Inga Margrete Aas on double bass, fully improvised yet with the critical quality of keeping a strong sense of focus on each piece's character and specific sound.

Just to illustrate the point, "Under Bakken", the first track has a solid foundation of a repetitive monotonous bowing tone, over which the violin plays mainly plucked sounds. The second track, "Sårand", is built around plucked bass, with the violin offering irregular scraping sounds. The other improvisations each have their own nature, and all with the same quality of almost naturally growing interactions, in a very intimate and close relationship building and developing the exploration. Probably their greatest strength lies in the creativity of the moment, with new ideas resulting not only in new timbral possibilities, but also in creating a story through it, one with feelings of anticipation and expectation, with sentiments of anxiety and doom and suprise guiding the movements.

And the next great thing is the phenomenal 'presence' of these two young musicians. There is first of all the willingness to go beyond the known, then the decisiveness of their musical vision and last but not least the unwavering power of the instrumental prowess. In short, they just go for it, no hesitation, no holding in, no shyness or not the slightest inclination to please or to go with the expectations.

And Eicher in all this? Congratulations to him, not only for his daring to give these two young musicians the opportunity, but also for the amazing quality of the recording, and his own production skills.