Shots: Sullow / The Silver Field / Johan Lindvall Trio / Bugge Wesseltoft / Eberson / The Night Monitor

SULLOW / THE SILVER FIELD – BETWIXT & BETWEEN 8 (Between & Betwixt)

A split cassette release from Sullow (Jacken Elswyth, Daniel S. Evans and Joshua Barfoot) and The Silver Field (Coral Rose and friends), each side dealing with the darker characteristics of folk music. Sullow’s seven banjo-led pieces are short and punchy improvisations full of fragile dissonance and stirring half-melodies, in thrall to a more complete form of traditional music that isn’t simply about pretty maidens running through fields clutching posies of wild flowers. The four Silver Field tracks continue Rose’s exploration of a unique sound world, fusing tapes, vocals and diverse instrumentation. ‘Godless/Doglegs’ begins with a squall of electronic noise before evolving into a rapturous, ritualistic piece full of euphoric vocals and bluesy cello melodies, while ’Chase’ is like a musique concrète interpretation of folk music for jaw’s harp and murky tape rhythms, alternating freely between the real and the ephemeral. Released January 28 2022.

https://betwixtbetweentapes.bandcamp.com/album/betwixt-between-8

JOHAN LINDVALL TRIO – THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU (Jazzland)

Jazz curiosities from Oslo courtesy of Johan Lindvall (piano), Adrian Myhr (bass) and Andreas Skår Winther (drums). The group are more than able to offer a classic presentation of the trio form on pieces like ‘Getting Out’, but it’s moments like opener ‘Imagine Something Different’ – with its unusual rhythmic time signature – suggest an interest in pushing the form from the polite background of the café to somewhere more radical. ‘Give Up’ has a pretty, memorable melody which will happily lodge itself in your brain for weeks, and a cover of Karen O’s ‘Rapt’ manages to stay recognisable while also highlighting Lindvall’s interpretative nous. The album concludes with a brilliant live recording of ‘Break’ from Stockholm’s Glenn Miller Café which finds the group at their most persuasive, the tight, measured playing hinting at early rock ‘n’ more than the group’s normal jazz furrow. Released February 18 2022.

https://johanlindvalltrio.bandcamp.com/album/this-is-not-about-you

BUGGE WESSELTOFT – BE AM (Jazzland)

The new album from Jazzland Recordings founder Bugge Wesseltoft is probably what we should all be listening to at this time of geopolitical anxiety. A profound serenity and hopefulness can be found in Wesseltoft’s pretty musings, which force you into a deeply soothed and contemplative state. Eschewing his usual eclectic array of keyboards, it is the venerable piano that prevails here, only occasionally accompanied by a wider set of instrumentation. ‘Life’ is a duet for piano and kalimba, the interaction between which leads to one of the more uncertain moments on the whole album, while ‘Emerging’ and ‘Roads’ benefit from the gentle saxophone interjections of Håkon Kornstad. To me, pieces like ‘Sunbeams Through Leaves Softly Rustling’ and ‘Resonate’ are the sound of the horrors of the pandemic coming to an end, being both reflectively subdued by the toll it took on all of us, but optimistically placing their attention on the future. A listen to this might also quell your existential fears, even if for a moment. Released February 25 2022.

https://buggewesseltoft.bandcamp.com/album/be-am

EBERSON – BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (Jazzland)

Between Two Worlds is the second album from Norway’s Eberson, the pairing of guitarist Jon Eberson and his daughter Marte on keyboards. For their new album together, they are joined by Jo Berger Myhre (bass), Rune Arnesen (percussion) and Axel Skalstad (drums). ‘Strange Highway’ is the album’s dynamic highlight, a fast-paced rush through incisive guitar riffs that weave in and out of insistent keyboard motifs. ‘Dancing With The Big Fish’ swims forth on soft keys, melodic sprinkles and a churning, rich bassline, over which Eberson Sr. offers a warm and evocative guitar riff that belongs in an episode of Miami Vice before fragmenting into a series of dextrous solos. The album’s title track is principally a vehicle for Marte Eberson’s playing, opening with a flute-style riff offset by ripples and soothing pads over an irrepressibly smooth rhythm section that sounds like The Funk Brothers chilling in Norway. Released March 4 2022.

https://eberson.bandcamp.com/album/between-two-worlds

THE NIGHT MONITOR – THEIR DARK DOMINION (Fonolith)

Continuing his adventures through the world of the unexplained and paranormal, Their Dark Domininion finds Blackpool’s Neil Scrivin exploring the mystery of Clapham Wood in Sussex. The story goes that the area was home to a cult purportedly including elite members of society called The Dark Hectate, and the skies above the wood were known for their UFO sightings and other strange phenomena. As ever, the back story provides the ideal inspiration for Scrivin’s unique brand of electronic composition. Pads float up from the ground like fog, melodies present themselves with unresolved open-endedness, leaving more questions than answers, and the whole thing feels like its drenched with sinister inquisitiveness. ‘The Pit And The Pentagon’ stands out for its creepy hook and choir textures, while the title track hitches a chilling synth riff to a strident drum pattern bespeaking ominous foreboding. No one does brooding electronic music quite like Scrivin, and this is undoubtedly one of his best releases to date. Released March 4 2022.

https://thenightmonitor.bandcamp.com/album/their-dark-dominion

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

Tortusa – Bre

Tortusa is the project of electronic musician John Derek Bishop, who hails from Stavanger in Norway. On his second album, Bishop has assembled perhaps one of the strongest Norwegian jazz groups ever committed to record – drummer Erland Dahlen, guitarists Eivind Aarset and Svein Rikard Mathisen, trumpeters Arve Henriksen and Simen Kiil Halvorsen, and saxophonist Inge Weatherhead Breistein, Bishop’s collaborator on 2017’s ghostly Mind Vessel

Except, a group – at least in the traditional sense – it most definitely is not: Bishop’s sleight of hand is to take samples of live performances by each of the musicians before adding analogue synthesisers, field recordings and computer processing to create imaginative, powerfully ruminative soundscapes. By his own acknowledgment, many of the musicians feeding into the twelve pieces on Bre are some of his heroes; yet his approach on a piece like ‘Bristen Ingen Kjente’, featuring Erland Dahlen, is to suppress the drummer’s rhythms into mere whispers, so vague that finding his playing is a little like trying to locate an imperceptible pulse in a hibernating woodland creature. Rather than using Dahlen’s dextrous playing to create the foundation of his track, Bishop instead uses a field recording of endlessly running water, through which appear tiny moments of treated percussion. 

Sometimes the contributions are more pronounced. Breistein’s sax melody on the album’s title track carries a delicate, questioning quality that’s presented more or less as the musician would have played it; on ‘Lyset Likevel’, Aarset’s guitar ripples and shimmers over a dubby pulse. You can undoubtedly tell that Bishop has a weakness for Henriksen’s trumpet playing. His contributions to ‘Ubevegelige’ and ‘Preget Uten Minne’ might be treated with echo and surrounded by all manner of unpredictable sonic interventions, but Bishop leaves the trumpeter’s melody more or less intact, creating a haunting, stirring, inquisitive Souk-like atmosphere in the process. 

The closest that Bre gets to the Norwegian supergroup suggested by gathering these luminaries together is on ‘Ikke Tale’, featuring Dahlen, Aarset and Breistein. On ‘Ikke Tale’ you can hear Dahlen’s gently polyrhythmic drumming, even if it’s placed far off in the distance; Breistein peels off some contemplative after-hours melodies; Aarset offers some pretty, blues-y guitar licks. On one level, this is a traditional jazz trio, but it’s one that’s strangely detached, deconstructed and reassembled, presented with a sparseness and reverb-drenched ambient aesthetic that is entirely Bishop’s own. 

Bre by Tortusa was released March 5 2021 by Jazzland. Thanks to Jim. 

(c) 2021 Further.