Frode Gjerstad - clarinets and alto
Artwork, photography and monotype Fay Stephens
Loose Torque LT 020
Price (pounds sterling) £10.00
+ p&p £1.95
and Fay Stephens are on a sabbatical for five months.
days after recording Quiddity (LT019) in London, Louis and I flew to Norway
to play at Cafe Sting in Stavanger. A cheap flight took us to Haugesund.
Declining the two hour bus journey to Stavanger we decided to take the
boat. In severe weather conditions and with no vacant seats we stood at
the back of the saloon gripping the seats in front of us, knees bent,
riding the waves, through the aptly named Bonkafjorden.
Eivind One Pedersen,
who furnishes the music with a prosperity of salubrious harmonic ambiguity
enriched by stimulating clusters, working nicely within the wavering frameworks
generated by the drums and the bass. Stephens exhibits figurations that
growl and murmur, pumping oxygen into the communal tissue, elsewhere plucking
single notes of positive circumspection. When he’s not probing the
insides of self-reflection, Gjerstad looks for precious upper partials,
chaining them in garlands of irrational subtlety. A coexistence of solitary
wanderers producing collective materials that sound both optimistically
assertive and thoroughly consistent.
The Bonkafjorden” is a four-part suite designed to in some ways
approximate the severe weather conditions the drummer and bassist experienced
during a boat trip on a Norwegian fjord. Putting aside any programmatic
accuracy, the 34-minute group improvisation features enough liquid expended
by the reedist and enough stressed sound waves from the rhythm instruments
to approximate the journey. Throughout Pederson concentrates on sloshing
and shuddering asides, usually expressed in quadruple counterpoint with
the other players’ playing. Juddering squeezes from the accordion’s
bellows and keys are highlighted alongside sluicing, altissimo clarinet
vibrations, plunks and sul ponticello runs from the bassist and the drummer’s
drags, rebounds and ruffs. Stephens’ sequence of strums, then staccato
bow action re-orients the suite, with Pederson’s thrusts and sputters
accompanying reed chirps to downshift the tempo to moderato; and an outpouring
of cascading chords aids Moholo-Moholo in keeping the overall irregular
vibrations glued to chromatic motions.