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2019 19 Sep

Three years ago, Nils Petter was rocking the cave

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | No Comments

October 2016 

 

Last swim before departure. A week full of radio work. Brutal ardour on Lanzarote. Good time for caves. This man with a history is still adventurous after all these years, and playing in Jameos del Agua adds to every possible magic spell. If you haven’t lost it, you’ll probably bring it all out here. Ten autumns ago, the trumpet player had visited the island for the first time, with his wife and his two children, and then „breathing in“ the archaic space with the ear of a musician, he dreamt of playing the volcanic power spot one day. That day was yesterday.

Molvaer’s big first statement was Khmer, an album that filled some of the space left by pioneering works of „Electric Miles“ and „Fourth World Hassell“. When I did my first interview with him (I only did two) – he was just about to release his third album after Khmer – I asked what he would do to keep his sound fresh. He said: „That’s a good question!“ Its certainly was (and a bit mean) – an artist who has discovered a certain formula, often tends to repeat it till nostalgia is creeping out of every note hanging in the air.

And, in fact, after his first two albums on ECM records, something seemed to be lost on the way, the auditoriums were sold out, the people got what they (a lot of them) wanted, the „Molvaer sound“, the „Molvaer grooves“ with all its shades of night and club and neon. Exhaustion easily comes with riding a first wave of success. It took a while for Nils Petter to reconsider, and then, someday (would be hard to nail it down), a good quantum of the old freshness came back with risky line-ups, with forgetting of being a virtuoso or being the man who knows all the tricks.

His last album, for example, Buyoancy, is a good example of keeping the spirits high – as is his quartet of yesterday’s evening. Geir Sundstol, Jo Berger Myhre (a broad spectrum of playing and treating guitars), and Erland Dahlen (percussion) were not just good company, they shaped and re-shaped everything from scratch, never played by the book. At least so it seemed. Stunning. At one point, near the end, I had the impression Geir Sundstol has been delivering his version of a Daniel Lanois-pedal steel guitar composition. Circles closing in so many ways, circles that never forget to look for promising exit signs – caves always have some hidden ones.

 
 

September  2019

 

Some weeks ago, Nils Petter Molvaer‘s KHMER got its first ever vinyl release on ECM. At the Punktfestival in Kristiansand I suddenly ran into him, and told him, well, weeks ago, Nils Petter, I played from „Khmer“. In my time travel show on five decades of ECM. Which track did you play, he wanted to know. „Song of Sand 2“, I remembered. Oh, that one, he answered and seemed delighted. Then, he told me how much he was inspired) while working on the music of Khmer) by reading Borges‘ „Labyrinths“. That book, he said, blew his mind.

 

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