A quiet joy of a debut album from this new Norwegian piano trio.
Peter Marsh 2012-11-15
There doesn't seem to be any slowing up in the outpouring of jazz and improvised musical talent coming out of Scandinavia, especially in the tried and tested but still slightly malleable format of the piano trio. And here's another one: Moskus are a young, talented, conservatory trained and eclectically influenced bunch, already touted as a name to watch.
The problem of establishing a musical identity is a tricky one for a piano trio, but Moskus have done it seemingly intuitively without resource to added electronics, forced stylistic mash-ups or ironic cover versions. Still, their sound is unmistakeably Nordic, and fans of e.s.t., In the Country or Tord Gustavsen will probably find much to keep them happy here.
Carla and Paul Bley are touted as major influences on the band alongside church music, post rock and French pancakes. The pancake influence isn’t detectable beyond one track title, but Anja Lauvdal's piano playing has the same mixture of concision, precision and emotional clarity as Mr Bley's.
She does sound remarkably like him at times, particularly in the tumbling clusters of notes she pulls from the bottom end of the keyboard. There's also something of Carla in the traces of folk, gospel and classical impressionism that flavour the compositions, and maybe a slight touch of her sly humour at times.
Bassist Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson and drummer Hans Hulbækmo don't exactly take a back seat but they don't showboat either, concentrating on providing supple but solid grooves or freer textural backdrops.
Hulbækmo is the wild card, dropping thumps, cymbal scrapes and crashes into the otherwise serenely beautiful Dagen Derpå Og Veien Tellbaksjatt in a way Tony Oxley might approve of. Dietrichson plays with authority and economy throughout, anchoring proceedings with a beautifully resonant tone.
Salmesykkel is a quiet joy; a thoughtful, unshowy piece of work whose maturity and poise seems at odds with the tender ages of its creators. We'll hopefully be hearing more from them soon.