on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2021 21 Apr

Why is this album so amazing?

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | Tags: , , , Comments off


We once met in Kristiansand, and I did at least one interview with drummer / percussionist Thomas Strønen, for instance on a solo album he had released on Rune Grammofon. I liked and loved all the albums he made as part of the ever-changing world of the band „Food“. When I listened to his new work, Bayou, produced by Manfred Eicher, recorded in Lugano, I was deeply impressed by the sounds of Thomas, Ayumi Tanaka (piano) and Marthe Lea (clarinet, voice, percussion). In more than one way this is space-conscious music, and I sent him some thoughts and questions about those days in August, 2018. Don‘t wait for the answers to turn down the lights and listen.


One of the thrilling things here is the rare appearance of vocals, their place in the sequence of tracks. Quite at the beginning we have an old folk song, then, a long time later, a variation on that melody, followed by track 9, that, different to all all the pieces, makes one think of a song-like instrumental followed by the last track with the voice humming. Was this planned before, in regards to the inner suspense? This has a really strong impact when listening to the album as a whole.


We don‘t have to speak about the special acoustics in Lugano, Thomas. I have once been there when Tigram Hamasyan’s album Atmosphères had been recorded and mixed. And later I spoke with Manfred Eicher about the microphones‘ placment in the auditorio stelio molo RSI, Lugano. So, then again, let‘s speak about the special SOUND of this album. Because there is quite an amount of sounds growing out of silence, of sounds slowly decaying -subtle dynamics, and you hear it all! it is such a joy to listen to the overall / enveloping sound  (it could easily be regarded as a reference recording, ideal for testing loudspeakers and headphones, haha). I got the feeling the big room plays an important part.


As one can see at the compositional credits, everything, apart from that old tune had been freely improvised. Was there been, apart from the free flow of ideas, another idea behind the album you might have had? And, what makes it so interestung for you and the trio to kind of „surrender“ to the moment and its special gifts?


Is there, a blueprint for this album, in jazz history maybe, where this kind of improvisational approach has been realized with dreamlike perfection?


Can you remember one or two moments of the days of production, a little anecdote, a conversation you had with your pals, or Manfred, or the tone engineer, that may may reveal something about the moods of those days in Lugano? That can be something quite ordinary, whatever. 


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