Motvind Records continues to collaborate with musician and composer Signe Emmeluth in an attempt to present art music that emphasizes deep listening, reflection and expressive emotions.

Vossajazz is a really cool jazz festival, it has a rich program history and are still holding the line. They’ve commissioned many works from composing jazz musicians, and one of the more unpredictable and surprising pieces that has come in recent years was BANSHEE by the alto saxophonist and composer Signe Krunderup Emmeluth, which was premiered there in 2021. A remarkable group of 7 uncompromising musicians performed in Gamlekinoen in Voss. For those of us who were present, it gave a feeling of witnessing something to which one could not act indifferently, but what was this work really about?

It is fascinating that ancient traditions keep reappearing in contemporary works of art. Emmeluth has based this piece on Irish mysticism, specifically the figure of the Banshee, who, through the use of a loud voice, comes with a warning of death and grief. At first glance, this may seem somewhat frightening and disturbing, but death must not be taboo, because death reminds us of life. Memento mori and Carpe diem is the true face of Janus. Emmeluth herself asks the questions, what do we want to experience while we exist? What did we leave behind? Are we actually present?

So it becomes clear to us. The work, which has now been revised and produced into a vinyl record and, by extension, is therefore for sale as a work of art, is about time. Time, isn’t that all we’ve got? Not easy to say that, because our perception of time is to the greatest extent influenced by our physical experience of time. So, without using goal-line technology, we here and now grant the act of being present a shared first place with time in the competition for what is all we’ve got. This is actually relevant, because the piece BANSHEE works concretely with the physical aspects of music through an examination of the power of the harmony of voices. All the musicians sing and scream. The physicality also manifests itself in the use of interference, the broad frequency spectrum (which is highlighted throughout this well-produced record) as well as the volume and intensity of the expression – these are powerful matters.

This record can be seen as a continuation of a very important record on Motvind Records that came out in 2019 and was called IS OKAY OKAY IS CERTIFIED. Then as now, Emmeluth worked tirelessly to explore the relationship between improvisation and composition/fixed material, as well as how these concepts can work together – contrasting or extending, or something in between. Since then, she has played on many records on Motvind Records, three releases with the Andreas Røysum Ensemble, as well as a thrilling duo record with Kresten Osgood.

About IS OKAY OKAY IS CERTIFIED, Patrik Sandberg wrote this in Orkesterjournalen: “Fascinating, playful and surprising music with clear traces of surrealism full of contrasts that give new associations with every listening.”

Five years later, we can confidently state that Emmeluth has chosen to continue on the complex path of creating fascinating, playful and surprising music. A lot has happened in these years, but the wealth of ideas seems to be rock solid – this album is a brilliant example of that.
This is state of the art contemporary jazz from the hyperactive Signe Emmeluth, which combines the harmonic structures of contemporary music, the thematic forms of avant-garde jazz, the insistent rhythms and trance tendencies of techno music, as well as the understanding of form of improvisational music. It sounds great and greedy. An ensemble of seven musicians throws off energetic firework from which we listeners can reap the auditory fruits.

All music composed by Signe Emmeluth

Jennifer Torrence: percussion, vibraphone, vocals
Guro Skumsnes Moe: electric bass, double bass, vocals
Maja S. K. Ratkje: vocals, electronics, violin
Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck: tuba, electronics, vocals
Guoste Tamulynaite: piano, synth, vocals
Anne “Efternøler” Andersson: trumpet, vocals
Signe Emmeluth: alto saxophone, electronics, vocals, composition

Recorded in Studio Paradiso, Oslo, by Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard on 29 and 30 May 2023
Mixed by Magnus Nergaard
Mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab
Produced by Signe Emmeluth and Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard

Photo by Margit Rønning Omholt
Layout by Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck

Motvind Records 2024, MOT26LP 

releases March 15, 2024

Link to album on Bandcamp.

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