Live in Molde reviews (in English, German, Dutch and Polish)

Molde Jazzfestival 2011

 

Record link

Massimo Ricci. Touching Extremes:

Joëlle Léandre: double bass; Kristin Andersen: trumpet and flutes; Lene Grenager: cello; Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje: voice and electronics; Hild Sofie Tafjord: french horn and electronics

Some collaborations are, in straight words, gifts of mother nature for inquisitive audiences. Such is the case of the seven-year long joint venture between SPUNK and Léandre, here taped during a Norwegian performance from 2011 sounding as creatively up-to-date as if coming from last week. Rarely we are so lucky to milk effective meanings from the entirety of a given release; this is one of those blessed junctures.

Except for two solos by Léandre – distinguished by her trademark amalgamation of satirical spirit, mercurial temperament and alert conjunction with an improvisation’s transcendental potential – the record is epitomized by the collective performances, only one omitting the French double bassist. Four tracks that flawlessly combine the acoustic quintessences of the instruments within electronic needleworks that come across as galvanizing, evocative, or both.

At this point the task of a reviewer becomes arduous, unless he/she escapes through a classic “career-in-pills” rehashing move. Instead, try and figure this: a fictional place where a true democracy survives, without conflicts of personalities. Sentences and decisions weighing equally in the economy of a no-nonsense discussion yielding luscious aural fruits and a few pre-turmoil nuggets.

Each artist is the proud possessor of an identifiable timbre. This and a dexterous mixing job definitely help in attributing a “compositional” flavor to the whole. The music moves along dynamic shifts and mutable moods: pensive, excitable, graceful, irritable, obsessive in an ever-fluid changeover from a state to another; getting mesmerized by the sumptuous inconstancy is unavoidable. When Ratkje spits out chains of implausible syllables encircled by an impressively concerted inflammation, phonations and tools turn into a sonic unicum exhaling crippling toxins and fine scents at once.

Beyond the timbral attractiveness, Live In Molde summons up a deeper beauty: an integration of discernment and quick-witted expressive options, strong individualities transfigured into an arresting modern-day fantasia.

Chain D.L.K.:

Another wonderful release from the surprising Nordic improvisational scene immortalized one of those mixing that could only be sparkling, the collaborative performance of Spunk, the female quartet that the brilliant vocal performer Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje joined together by involving Kristin Andersen (trumpet, flutes), Lene Grenager (cello) and Hild Sofie Tafjord (French horn, electronics), and the iconic double bass player Joelle Leandre, that got held at Moldejazz Festival on July 20th 2011. The recording has been splitted in six moments: my favorite ones are the three collaborative parts, where the first sounds like a reciprocal exorcism within storms of sneaking tones, vocals which perpetually roll over moments of abstract joy, exstasy, paroxysm and rage, a double-bass which sounds like coiling around disjointed instrumental phrases, the second – one of the most amazing moment of the whole recording – renders a sort of musical tormented sleeping (heavy snoring included!) and an encore at the end of the recording, where they seem to produce sonic resin which frustrate any possible movement of each instrument, while Kristin uses her trumpet like a sort of whip against angry Furies. The sparkle of the two solo tracks by Joelle, which sound like a set of primers for a soul on fire, got counterbalanced by the solo performance by SPUNK, who seem to render the caring assuaging of the screaming wounds that Joellle lets ideally bleed. Joelle herself expressed her own admiration for the female super-group that get aside her art on the occasion of Moldejazz performance: “SPUNK is rare. As a group they have a unique strngth in the fact that all members move freely between roles as performers, improvisers and composers. SPUNK’s music is poetic, responsible and free at the same time”.

Vital Weekly:

The other new release is from the world of improvisation. Here we have a meeting of the double bass of Joelle Leandre with Spunk, the group of Kristin Anderson (trumpet and flutes), Lene Grenager (cello), Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje (voice and electronics) and Hild Sofie Tafjord (french horn and electronics). In 2001 they all played the Moldejazz festival, and this disc documents that. There two piece solo by Leandre, one solo by Spunk and two collaborative pieces. Welcome to the world of hardcore improvisation. The two collaborative pieces are heavy busy blasts of improvised music, with lots of things happening and everybody doing something all the time, especially in the shorter piece of the two. In Leandre’s solo pieces, she plays the double bass with a bow very hectic, and in the first one sparsely adds her voice. In Spunk’s solo piece things seem less hectic than in the collaborative spirit, but as ‘the other side of the coin’ this works really well, rather more concentrated and working towards a great crescendo. Something of that concentration we also find in the longer collaboration, in which there seems to be more spacing between the sounds and instruments. It’s quite a long ride, this release, but one with some remarkable beauty in it. (FdW)

The Quietus:

Recorded at the 2011 Molde Jazz Festival, this is a heavyweight electro-acoustic improv session, bringing together Norwegian quartet SPUNK and French double bassist Joëlle Léandre. Over a series of group and solo features, the musicians undertake a gutsy and expressive investigation of metal, wood, circuitry and breath. The opening piece has all five musicians dive in head first, with Léandre and cellist Lene Grenager’s tectonic bow-work shaking the ground over which Hild Sofie Tafjord’s processed French horn gushes Venusian lava, and Maja Ratkje’s clear voice chatters and wails. Kristin Andersen’s trumpet glints out of the torpid, churning mass, as Ratkje scatters cherry bombs of digital noise amidst the squalling horns and slashing bows. Léandre’s solo tracks see her vocalising a kind of sound poetry and applying a range of extended techniques to her bass: bold pizzicato figures which vibrate into chords, fiercely beautiful bow work with irruptions of slapped and popped strings. SPUNK’s own feature changes the pace with Ratkje and Tafjord’s beautiful voices shimmering over bowed cello harmonics and long trumpet tones. It’s not unlike the Arthur Russell of World Of Echo, with the frayed edges only adding to the beauty. The final stretch is less urgent than the first, with the musicians settling into a conversational mode, but it’s still a fascinating and unusual listen.

freStil:

Zwischen hoher Expressivität und leisem Verschwinden bewegen sich SPUNK und Joëlle Léandre auf diesem Live-Album, aufgenommen 2011 beim norwegischen Molde Jazzfestival. Ein Konzert dieser fünf Musikerinnen muss schon ein Erlebnis sein, wie dieses Album klar beweist. Live in Molde um fasst nun sechs Tracks und eröffnet mit einem Stück, bei dem SPUNK und Léandre gemeinsam zu hören sind. Agil und flexibel sind die Damen unterwegs und überzeugen durch ihre Lebendigkeit, die zwischen expressiven Passagen und dezenteren Parts sich sachte hin und her bewegt. Auf dieses etwa 15-minütge Eröffnungsstück folgen zwei Soli von Léandre, die sich wie ein Tanz anfühlen, denn ihre Musik hat etwas sehr Körperliches, etwas sehr Intuitives. Gleich zu Beginn des zweiten Tracks scheint es, als wolle Léandre ihren Kontrabass zersägen, und fällt in eine derartig interessante Expressivität hinein, vor allem dann, wenn sie noch die Stimme mit einsetzt. Wirklich beeindruckend. Bei der nächsten Nummer kommt dann SPUNK zum Zug. Ihr Stück, dem eine gewisse Zerbrechlichkeit innewohnt und sich zum Schluss hin in ein diffuses Klanggewurle verdichtet, ist ein guter Kontrast zu dem davor Gehörten. SPUNK und Léandre begeistern, gemeinsam sowie als einzeln auftretende Entitäten.

Gonzo Circus:

De cd bevat vijf nummers en een toegift, maar feitelijk was het optreden één lange muzikale gedachtengang. Het begint allemaal wat rumoerig, alsof de vrouwen zich gelijktijdig door een smalle deur proberen te wurmen. Hier wordt geduwd, daar gewrongen, als elk de voorrang opeist. Maar al gauw zijn ze die precaire situatie voorbij en komt de muziek meer tot rust. Niet dat ze het concert verder op hun sloffen afwerken. Integendeel zelfs, er zit een geweldige onderhuidse spanning in de manier waarop ze elkaar aftasten, proberen tot een vergelijk te komen zonder te veel van hun individualiteit op te geven. Ze weven klankvelden waar aanvankelijk nogal wat hobbels en kuilen in zitten. Van lieverlee worden de uitzichten weidser. Ze bereiken een balans waarin niemand domineert over de anderen, maar werken wel met enige regelmaat naar een flinke eruptie toe. Opvallend is dat ze vooral in klank denken, nauwelijks in melodieën – al duiken die op wanneer vocaliste Maja Ratkje feërieke lijnen uittekent, waar de anderen nevels omheen optrekken.

M/I Magazyn:

Przedstawiamy dwie nowości płytowe, jakie ukazały się w ostatnim czasie w katalogu norweskiej wytwórni +3db.

Norweski kwartet SPUNK istnieje od 1995 roku, a w jego składzie mamy: Kristin Andersen (trąbka, flet), Lene Grenager (wiolonczela), Maje Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje (głos, elektronika) i Hildi Sofie Tafjord (waltornia, elektronika). Większość swoich albumów zespół wydał nakładem oficyny Rune Grammofon. W tym roku pisałem też o solowej płycie Hildi Sofie Tafjord na łamach Nowej Muzyki.

W 2011 roku na festiwalu Moldejazz dołączyła do grupy znakomita francuska kontrabasistka, wokalistka i kompozytorka Joëlle Léandre. Tegoroczny longplay „Live in Molde” dokumentuje tamto koncertowe wydarzenie. Już w pierwszym utworze „SPUNK and Joëlle” muzycy umiejętnie zacierają granice między kompozycją a improwizacją. Dwa kolejne fragmenty („Joëlle Léandre solo”, Joëlle Léandre solo 2”) to rozwibrowane i pełne dramaturgii kompozycje Léandre na kontrabas solo i głos, które z pewnością zainteresują miłośników twórczości Mike’a Majkowskiego. W nieco stonowanym nagraniu „SPUNK” cztery panie stają się jednym organicznym kolektywem wytwarzającym niezwykle uduchowioną muzykę z kręgu free-improv, z mocnym nawiązaniem do skandynawskiego folku. W „SPUNK and Joëlle 2” i „SPUNK & Joëlle 3” artystki powracają do wspólnego eksperymentowania z Joëlle Léandre. Oba nagrania to dzika i swobodna improwizacja, w której wirtuozerskie partie oraz nieprzeciętna wyobraźnia twórczyń zostały rozciągnięte do maksimum wytrzymałości.

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