Monday, August 5, 2019
Raymond Strid & Sten Sandell - Winter Then Spring (Found You, 2018) ****
Swedish pianist Sten Sandell and drummer Raymond Strid are what we could call the free improv backbone of Swedish music. If many of the other Swedish musicians - Gustafsson, Küchen, Broo, Ljunkvist, Wiik, Berthling - lean more towards jazz, Strid and Sandell are easier to place in the British 'tradition' developed by Evan Parker and John Butcher, two musicians with whom they performed in various line-ups.
Despite their frequent collaborations (seven albums with Mats Gustaffson in the trio "Gush"), they produced only one album together in 1983, as yet unreleased. That by itself makes this album memorable.
As you can expect from both artists' track record, the result is great: fourty minutes of freedom results in the unexpected, carefully built up, with finesse and subtlety, creating a tapestry of a variety of sounds that gently meet and flee again. They explore the sounds of their instruments, letting them resonate and echo and fade. There is no hurry, no extravert excitedness, apart from the intense concentration of listening and creating. They take you into realms of deep meditation over inventive novelty to playful moments (especially in the title piece), but whatever the mood, the music has an authenticity and freshness that is riveting, possibly the result of an attitude of innocence and free-mindedness which relinquishes all possible concepts and preconceptions.
The result is a gentle, creative and strongly resonating album.