Friday 4th NovemberDecember 4, 2009
Tired tonight, but glad the week is over as far as work is concerned. Sunday, and hopefully also Monday I’ll be in London to catch Taku Unami play, which is always a pleasure, so a good weekend ahead if I’m not so tired as to sleep right through it. Today I have been listening to a new CD sent to me by Kim Johannesen. a young Norwegian improviser, who appears on this disc as half of a duo with fellow countryman saxophonist and clarinetist Svein Magnus Furu. The CD is named The Eco Logic and is recently out on Creative Sources.
On the surface quite a bit of this release is made up of nice but not groundbreaking free improv, clean, clear playing that varies between more textural and slightly busier pieces. Both musicians apparently have a background in free jazz, and while it is clear that often here they are trying hard to escape that area of music the tell-tale signs are still in the music. The opening piece, named, quite nicely Room to grow (vegetables) sets out the musicians’ stall, an evenly balanced mix of (I think) bowed guitar sounds, buzzes and softly played sax notes laid in gentle patterns alongside each other. Although the end result is probably only the sum of its parts the simplicity of the music is certainly attractive, nothing is overblown or worked too hard, and in the main the extended sax notes are just allowed to roll slowly past as Johannesen works through a series of small percussive patterns.
Further tracks play around with other dynamics. The second piece, Jack and the Beanstalk has an almost composed feel, the two musicians trading small sounds at a steady pace, and the third, Mikrokosmos becomes much busier, with Furu moving away from tonal sounds to busier flutters and growls. There is nothing bad here at all, but somehow much of the music just feels a little run-of-the-mill, lacking that extra sparkle to make it stand out from the crowd. The opening to the fourth track, Ants Marching is very nice, both musicians making only the tiniest of sounds, but gradually it opens up into busier ground, though a sustained tone from Johannesen midway through is good on the ear.
It is an extended guitar sound, possibly made with an eBow that makes the album’s seventh and final track my favourite by some way. Life on Mars begins with the tinny vibration of an agitated string coupled with slow, languorous held notes from Furu, all very soft and gentle. As the guitar sound shifts through a passage of clattering handheld-fan-against- body moments so the intensity of the clarinet (I think its the clarinet here, though not certain) increases and the long notes get shorter, but underneath a continuous tone appears from the guitar, which hangs heavily in the air for the final three minutes as Furu calms things to just purring murmurs to match the warmth of the tone. This piece, and its closing moments in particular highlight the strengths of The Eco Logic. There is a beguiling simplicity here, a clarity that reminds me of a slightly grittier Los Glissandinos from a few years back. I’d probably have preferred the entire album to have explored this kind of area, but then that is just my personal taste kicking in. All in all, while the earth may not have moved this is a good album by a pair of young musicians with plenty of room to grow, and in places the album shows real promise for things to come.
Just another reminder then that Taku Unami is in London for a few days. I have just noticed right now that Angharad Davies has been added to Sunday’s bill, I am guessing in a duo with Unami. Looking forward to that one. That gig is at CafÃ© Oto, as is Tuesday night’s show, and sandwiched between will be a performance for Interlace down at Goldsmiths College, on a bill including a Prevost/Lexer/Wright trio. Not to be missed, say hi if you see me at either of the Sunday or Monday shows. I don’t think I will be at the Tuesday one.