Swedish superstar piano trio offer long awaited new album.
Peter Marsh 2003
Sweden's EST are a bit of a phenomenon. Over the last few years they've sold a truckload of records, sent critics into ecstasies and won themselves a devoted following through live performances all over the place, Now, fresh from winning Best International Act at the BBC Jazz Awards, they're back with the follow up to last year's hugely successful Strange Place for Snow.And all this from a straightahead acoustic piano trio.
Well, not quite straightahead. Like Brad Mehldau, they're quietly breathing new life into a tried and tested format.Their strength is their sound; E.S.Tunderstand the studio, treating it like the trio's fourth instrument rather than a means of simply documenting their playing.
Stylistically, they borrow from rock, electronica and Americana. Mournful, quietly ecstatic ballads alternate with more riff based, rhythmically insistent workouts. A bit like Aussie improvisers The Necks, E.S.T can build up from nothing to blissfully gripping climaxes that (particularly in a live setting) set the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention.
Svennson's piano is economical, melodic, sounding often like Keith Jarrett on a note ration. Sometimes he uses the piano as a percussion instrument (which technically is exactly what it is), pulling minimalist figures of clicks and marimba like tones from its interior. His restraint makes his dazzling solo flights all the more impressive.Dan Berglund's superbly elastic bass is given lots of solo space for languidly intricate runs, chiming harmonics or bowed, fuzzed lines reminiscent of legions of prog rock guitarists (talking of which, there's more than a hint of Radioheadin some of the tunes here).Magnus Öström'sdrums give the quiet hiss of brushed cymbals or metronomic clatterings and earthy grooves that support and inspire; check the sweaty intensity of "O.O.R.I.P", where the trio generate a humid, intensefunk. Finally in a hidden track, Josh Haden (Charlie's son) turns up for a fragile vocal reading of the earlier "Believe Beleft Below".
Seven Days of Falling is gritty, romantic, melancholic and uplifting by turns. If you've wondered what the fuss is all about, this is the place to start, while the converted will need no encouragement. Highly recommended.