, the debut by Iain Ballamy's Food for premier avant-garde label Rune Grammofon is superb. The previous two Food albums on Ballamy's own Feral label (Organic and GM Food
) proved hugely popular; with Organic
turning up in many end-of-year best lists of those who like their modern jazz adventurous, challenging and overlapping with the innovative side of post-rock.
Ballamy's saxophone works beautifully with Arve Henriksen's electro-trumpet. Experimental often seems to be a synonym for angular, but the trumpet here is often plaintive and the overall tone lyrical. Produced and mixed by Deathprod, who keeps the few beats and found-sounds contemporary and allusive, this is an impressive feast of music that everyone should enjoy tucking into. --Mark Thwaite
Anyone interested in the state of modern jazz will probably have noticed that Norway is producing some of the finest and most adventurous jazz musicians on the planet at the moment, from straight ahead acoustic outfits like Atomic to the nu jazz of Bugge Wesseltoft and Wibutee or the dark electronic improvscapes of Supersilent.
Food unites the lyrical and adventurous saxophony of Iain Ballamy and the highly individual trumpeter Arve Henriksen (whose solo album Sakuteiki was one of the highlights of last year) with the rhythm section of Mats Eilertsen and Thomas Strønen. Though Ballamy's known primarily as a player who revels in rich harmonic possibilities, he's obviously not afraid of taking chances; Food dispense with chords and tight structures in favour of collective improvisation and electronic shadings.
After two albums which documented the group in a live setting, veggie sees a move to the excellent Rune Grammofon label, complete with a coolly beautiful Kim Hiørthoy sleeve and remixing input from Supersilent's Helge Sten (aka Deathprod).
Unsurprisingly there's more accent on the electronics this time, with samples providing foggy, dreamlike backgrounds for Henriksen's breathy, flute like trumpet and Ballamy's bucolic saxophone (mainly soprano). Both horn players opt for concise solo statements, uniting for aching, folk like melodies that seem to hang in the air long after they're gone. The one exception is "pie", where Henriksen's trumpet shines for a few minutes, accompanied by Eilertsen's resonant bass.Meanwhile the rhythm section opt for texture rather than propulsion, offeringtumbling, fractured pulses below the horns and atmospherics.
Strønen's percussive approach is reminiscent of a less hyperactive Tony Oxley, adding bells, the clank of rusted chains and muted depthcharge hits. The sequenced groove of"chickpea"imagines a chance meeting of krautrock synth pioneers Cluster with Jan Garbarek and AMM in a scrapyard, while on the final 'mushroom' Strønen reluctantly takes upa slow, truculentbeat under Henriksen's throatsinging.
Sten's role is crucial; his skill at the board drops Ballamy's lines in pools of luxurious reverb or draws instruments and samples out of the mix to give an almost tangible depth and shape to the soundfield. The studio as the fifth member of the quartet, in fact.The effect is immersive in the way that Eno's On Land or Miles Davis' "He Loved Him Madly" are. Deep listening makes veggie a hypnotic, sometimes deeply beautiful record. Food for the ears, indeed.
Like This? Try These:
Arve Henriksen - Sakuteiki
The Source and Different Cikadas
Jon Balke - Kyanos --Peter Marsh
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