Posted on Jun 3rd 2009 12:07 am

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Torben Snekkestad: Conic Folded

Conic Folded
Ilk 2009
11 Tracks. 50mins00secs

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Scandinavia has long been a hot bed for contemporary jazz, with musicians resolutely drifting away from traditional American or European forms to explore new sounds and devise their own rules. Norwegian saxophonist Torben Snekkestad has been sharpening his talent in many formations in the last ten years, including stints with Trygve Seim and Thomas Strønen, but Conic Folded is his first solo record.

Recorded with Norwegian pianist Jon Balke, who has been an active member of the Scandinavian jazz scene for over thirty years, and Danish bass player Jonas Westergaard a much younger musician who has nevertheless been recording in various formations for years, Conic Folded is a mighty fine record indeed, where desolate melodies appear to find enough life in the driest of orchestrations to suddenly explode in colourful motifs or slowly concentrate into exquisite introvert pieces. Silence is a strong component here, especially when Snekkestad alone is performing, as on the utterly delicate and touching Seated Man or on the closing Løvetann for instance, but it also features heavily on the beautiful Undercurrents, where prepared piano and saxophone form delicate patterns around soundless pools, or on the title track on which Snekkestad, first on his own, then with Balke, creates finely detailed emotional layers.

All the way through, the trio interact with each other in free-flowing three way conversations, as demonstrated right from the opening seconds of September, which opens this album, when Snekkestad, Balke and Westergaard continuously provide one another with phrases upon which they progressively build up the narrative of the piece. But, despite this strong connectivity, each instrument remains firmly individual and solitary. On Francis Faced #2, or later, on Noodles or Icecream, Sir?, Zobob or Francis Faced #1, the trio engage in more lively exchanges, resulting in these compositions appearing more fleshed up and sturdy, while at the opposite end of the scale, it is as if they were locked in some esoteric interactions. On the latter part of the title track, Snekkestad and Balke echo each other rather than create a real dialogue, while on E.P. Flowers, the piano provides a sombre counterpoint to Snekkestad’s hyperactive sax work.

With his first effort, Torben Snekkestad has created a somewhat minimal record, where each sound is used in its most critical form, but far from being obscure or unapproachable, Conic Folded is actually a wonderfully poetic and evocative record. As a formation, Snekkestad, Balke and Westergaard work particularly well together, interacting without stepping on each other’s role and freely feeding from the common energy created by their respective inputs.


Icon: arrow Torben Snekkestad | Ilk
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One Response to “TORBEN SNEKKESTAD: Conic Folded (Ilk)”

  1. SPRING: Slides (Ilk) | themilkfactoryon 19 Jul 2011 at 1:18 am

    […] in elements of musique concrète, Spring partly echo Snekkestad’s debut solo release, Conic Folded, published two years […]