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Mercurial Balm


Price: £14.66 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Mercurial Balm + Quiet Inlet
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Product details

  • Audio CD (5 Nov. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B008U0FJSA
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,673 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. NebularFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Christian Fennesz 5:55£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Celestial FoodFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Christian Fennesz 4:26£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. AscendantFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Christian Fennesz 6:01£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. PhaseFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Christian Fennesz 3:49£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. AstralFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Christian Fennesz 9:10Album Only
Listen  6. MoonpieFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Christian Fennesz & Nils Petter Molvaer 4:33£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. ChanterelleFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Eivind Aarset & Prakash Sontakke 3:46£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Mercurial BalmFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Eivind Aarset & Prakash Sontakke 5:01£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. MagnetosphereFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Eivind Aarset & Prakash Sontakke 6:19£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Galactic RollFood, Thomas Strønen & Iain Ballamy with Christian Fennesz 4:43£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description

For its second album on ECM, the Food duo of Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen and British saxophonist Iain Ballamy continues to invite guests to bring something to the table. Their guests for Mercurial Balm are guitarist Christian Fennesz and trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær - both previously around the table for Quiet Inlet - plus, on three different tracks, Indian slide guitarist and singer Prakash Sontakke and Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset. The party produced, in Iain Ballamy's words, "a strange mix of musicians and musical genres", but it's a compelling mixture.

The form-and-texture conscious improvisations here are drawn from live performances in Victoria National Jazz scene in Norway and the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, and sessions at Oslo's Rainbow Studios. To the latter group belong 'Chanterelle', the title track of 'Mercurial Balm', and 'Magnetoshere' on which the slide guitar and vocals of Prakash Sontakke are partnered by Eivind Aarset's atmospheric guitar and electronics. The first half of the album finds Food augmented by Austrian guitarist Christian Fennesz, taking further the experiments with layers of sound begun on Quiet Inlet. Nils Petter Molvær joins Strønen, Ballamy and Fennesz for the slice of 'Moonpie'. The whole album was mixed at Rainbow Studios by Jan Erik Kongshaug and Manfred Eicher.

Food's priorities, the emphases upon melodic playing, textural development and the creating and exploration of sound-environments, shape the contexts for these improvisations. The acoustic aspects of Food's music, with drums, percussion and lyrical saxophone, are again enhanced by the use of electronics as a structural element. The scope of expression runs "from minimalist to very turbulent". They like to surprise - themselves as much as the listener.

Personnel: Thomas Strønen (drums, percussion, electronics), Iain Ballamy (saxophones, electronics), Christian Fennesz (guitar, electronics), Eivind Aarset (guitar, electronics), Prakash Sontakke (slide-guitar, vocal), Nils Petter Molvær (trumpet - 6)

BBC Review

In the past, all members of a jazz band might pick up claves, shakers, bells or tambourines during a performance. Percussion was a common instrument. But today, the unifying force can often be electronics.

On this fifth album by the ensemble jointly led by British saxophonist Iain Ballamy and Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen, the bulk of Food’s members use a laptop, distortion pedals or an effects unit of some kind in addition to their ‘traditional’ axes. The result is an album in which the finer points of the sound canvas – the flickers, filigrees and fleeting rumbles of GM-tone – are as important as the more obviously organic surge of horns and drums.

It is tempting to describe the music as a blend of ambient groove and improvisation, whereby manipulated noise provides a backdrop for theme and solo. But the modus operandi here is less binary, and less about improvisation ‘over’ clearly stated chords.

Ballamy does make noble statements on pieces such as Ascendant where his round, robust tenor rings out like a bugle in swirls of wind. But on many occasions the horns and guitars play astutely spaced legatos that stream in and out of the whirlpool of electronic bubble, and squeak so that the leader-sideman distinction is scrambled.

Furthermore, the 10 relatively short tracks segue into each other to create a continuous mix, making the point that the recording is the whole rather than the sum of its parts. While the harsh, astringent timbres of Eivind Aarset and Christian Fennesz’s guitars fashion occasionally bleak, industrial ambiences, the subtext of Indian and African music is nonetheless strong.

Wistful drones are used liberally and the fine mesh of Strønen’s brushes and marimba-like pitches on Astral recalls nothing other than the hiss and buzz of a balafon. All these carefully wrought tingles of sound, constantly placed in a wide dynamic range, have a hint of the music of mid-80s Jon Hassell, an artist whose influence on Mac-age jazz is not minor.

--Kevin Le Gendre

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By degrant on 10 Nov. 2012
Format: Audio CD
While unmistakably still the work of Thomas Strønen and Iain Ballamy, "Mercurial Balm" is an appreciably different beast from the excellent "Quiet Inlet". Longer, warmer and with a fuller sound , it is altogether more muscular if somewhat less focused and, at times, has echoes of the post My Bloody Valentine scene and the rockier elements of "Mezzanine"-era Massive Attack. Molvær, the dominant force in "Quiet Inlet" appears on only one of the ten tracks. In his absence, Ballamy's saxophone is relatively and absolutely more prominent. Six of the compositions feature only the addition of Christian Fennesz while three feature Eivind Aarset and Prakash Sontakke whose arresting voice is heard most clearly on "Chanterelle".

Atmospheric and undemonstrative opener "Nebular" is perhaps closest in conception to the sense of space of "Quiet Inlet" and, brilliantly, yields to the percussive thrust of "Celestial Food", coloured with splashes of soprano sax. The 9 minute "Astral" is the centrepiece in every way, featuring Ballamy's finest playing against a propulsive, syncopated background whose overall ,almost symphonic, sound stands comparison with the recent live release by Steve Reid, Keiran Hebdon and Mats Gustafsson . In its wake "Moonpie", featuring Molvær, almost seems like a lament but carries its own impact. In turn "Chanterelle", containing Sontakke's most prominent vocal and more liberated sax, has a suitably oriental feel.

While "Mercurial Balm" somewhat peters out and, overall, is more uneven than "Quiet Inlet", it contains colour, depth and highs which its predecessor does not and is ultimately equally, if differently, alluring. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 3 Dec. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Highly recommended. I am not a jazz fan and this album is not jazz as we know it. It lives as one the permanent cds in my car.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Finbar the looney on 11 Nov. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The follow up to 2010s "Quiet inlet"has arrived without any fuss aand favour,Thomas stronnen and Iain Ballamy have always made very original albums,thier previous albums were very strangely packsged in boxes with bay leaves and other freebies such as posters etc.
with this their second ECM they continue on thier momentous journey upwards and onwards.
1......Nebular......5.54...... starts very slowly and developes with what sounds like tuned percussion and abaritone saxaphone,this is very etherial and moody,this merges seamlessly into the following;
2......Celestial food.....4.24.......which immediatly becomes more rythymaatical,and gives an impresssion of the vast open vistas of The sarengetti,marvelous stuff
3.......Ascendant......6.00......is a slower paced tune more reminiscent of Jan Garbarek,or to a lesser extent Stefan Micus.
4......Phase.......3.47......another out of this world feeling track,Stronens drums well to the fore,with Fennesz's guitar providing the backing
5......Astral......9.07.....this piece gains from the extra playing time.
6......Moonpie.......4.33......another thoughtfull piece of Nordic soundscape with Nils Petter Molvaers wonderful trumpet playing.
7.....Chanterelle......3.46.....the only vocal on the album,it brings "Ragas and sagas" by Jan Garbarek to mind,fantastic drums and saxaphone on this.
8.....Mercurial balm......5.01.......the wonderful title trsck which has echoes of Terje Rypdal,this is absolutely exquisite, this reminds me of Ustae Fatah ali khan
9......Magnetosphere.....6.17..... absolutely marvelous
10....Galactic Roll......4.42......a particularly good way to end this album.
Read more ›
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