SPRING: Slides (Ilk)


Posted on Jul 19th 2011 01:18 am

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Spring: Slides

Ilk 2011
05 Tracks. 44mins30secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: DLD

Danish jazz quartet Spring first appeared in early 2008 with a self-titled album released on Copenhagen-based imprint Ilk. Led by Anders Banke (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet) and Norwegian-born Torben Snekkestad (tenor and soprano sax, violimba), with a rhythmic section comprising double bass player Jonas Westergaard and drummer and percussionist Peter Bruun, the quartet’s debut release, carried by both an impressive front ensemble and a very effective rhythmic section, demonstrated a taste for refined angular compositions which, while remaining in a fairly conventional set up, proved to be extremely convincing.

Three years on, the quartet have moved into much more abstract territories with their second opus. Keen to expand their sound by pushing into unfamiliar grounds, the quartet asked five Danish composers (Jexper Holmen, Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen, Simon Christensen, Jeppe Just Chritensen and Peter Bruun) to come up with musical sketches and ideas that Spring could use as starting point for their compositions. The result is a pretty impressive collection, which breaks down the boundaries between experimental jazz and avant-garde classical music,. By bringing in elements of musique concrète, Spring partly echo Snekkestad’s debut solo release, Conic Folded, published two years ago.

Although overall rather minimal and cool-headed, the music is subject to occasional bouts of burning fever  which brings this record out of its shell and into the open. Following the spiraling dissonances of opening piece NeoN, where Banke and Snekkestad appear locked in parallel circles, the opening minutes of SlidesTwoSpots see soprano sax and clarinet chasing after each other over an increasingly dense drum and bass section. Then, as the rhythmic tension begins to drop a bit, Banke and Snekkestad switch to a more settled dialogue between saxophones. The piece then appear to contract into more abstract and sparse corners for a while but erupts in burning assaults until the quartet adopt a more febrile pace, set essentially by Westergaard and Bruun, with only occasional plaintive brushes from the other two, for the last five minutes of the piece.

Although the formation return to more upfront instrumentation on closing piece Nothing So Beautiful As Spring, they choose a more controlled stride and actually bring in some of this record’s most melodic moments. Before that, Ningbo is pretty deconstructed, as fragmented sax and clarinet phrases, drum patterns and bass lines are left floating around each other without apparent relation to each other. This contrasts with the epic experimentation which precedes it. On 3 Zenbuddhistiske Melodier, the quartet explore an entirely different sonic space here as they layers dissonant motifs and spectral noises to form a permanently distorted cosmic soundscape. It is in this vastly atmospheric setting that Spring find themselves at the confine of jazz and musique concrète, and continue to refine this otherworldly piece throughout its sixteen and a half minutes.

All four members of Spring are renowned musicians in their own right, and have contributed to countless formations in Denmark and the whole of Scandinavia. Their approach of involving modern classical composers doesn’t detract from the avant-jazz nature of their work, but it certainly gives it a much more abstract outlook, making Slides a more demanding effort than its predecessor, but also, ultimately, a much more rewarding record.


Spring (MySpace) | Ilk
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: DLD

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