Click here to [close]

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Nina de Heney/ Karin Johansson/ Henrik Wartel - Quagmire (Creative Sources, 2019) ****

By Eyal Hareuveni

The Swedish, Gothenburg-based, free-improvising trio of Swiss-born double bass player Nina de Heney, pianist Karin Johansson and drummer Henrik Wartel has been performing steadily over the last few years. This trio describes itself as exploring the musical territories that occur through instant compositions, balancing between expressions of sounds, rhythms and textures. The trio’s debut album, Quagmire, was recorded live at Geiger sessions, Elementstudio, Gothenburg in February 2018.

All three musicians are experienced improvisers, and all have developed their own extended techniques, unique preparations and assorted objects that enrich their sonic universes. De Heney is known from her brilliant solo work and duo with pianist Lisa Ullén. Johansson works with experimental guitarist Finn Loxbo, and veteran Wartel is known from his work with local jazz icons like trombonist Eje Thelin and vocalist Monika Zetterlund as well as the Polish trumpeter Tomaz Stanńko, and today he is playing with everyone, everywhere.

This trio sounds as if it has found its very own mode of operation in the kind of muddy waters that experimental, instantly-composed music often is. Quagmire feature three distinct improvisations. The first, title-piece begins with a fragmented dialog between The enigmatic bowing of de Heney and rubbing and scratching wooden, metal and skin surfaces of Johansson and Wartel, and patiently it gravitates to a sparse and fragile pulse. De Heney injects a destabilizing element with each stroke of the bass strings, subverting the intensifying rhythmic pattern that Wartel attempts to solidify, while Johansson adds cosmic, melodic touches to this tense and dense yet very intimate interplay. The second piece, “Tideland,” still suggests a shaky atmosphere, with de Heney leading and using the double bass as a percussive instrument that triggers imaginative percussive envelope from both Johansson and Wartlel, encompassing her total intuitive rhythmic rationale with nuanced sounds. The last, “Meander Mesh,” is the most gentle, and emotional piece here, beginning with Johansson offering resonant ripples of the piano strings and finally treads on quite linear course and even on solid ground. De Heney, Johansson and Wartel succeed again to find their own complex yet mysterious pulse and keep exposing more detailed and colorful layers.

Brilliant and beautiful.