the eco logic | cs129








































Tired tonight, but glad the week is over as far as work is concerned. Sunday, and hopefully also Monday I’ll be in London to catch Taku Unami play, which is always a pleasure, so a good weekend ahead if I’m not so tired as to sleep right through it. Today I have been listening to a new CD sent to me by Kim Johannesen. a young Norwegian improviser, who appears on this disc as half of a duo with fellow countryman saxophonist and clarinetist Svein Magnus Furu. The CD is named The Eco Logic and is recently out on Creative Sources.
On the surface quite a bit of this release is made up of nice but not groundbreaking free improv, clean, clear playing that varies between more textural and slightly busier pieces. Both musicians apparently have a background in free jazz, and while it is clear that often here they are trying hard to escape that area of music the tell-tale signs are still in the music. The opening piece, named, quite nicely Room to grow (vegetables) sets out the musicians’ stall, an evenly balanced mix of (I think) bowed guitar sounds, buzzes and softly played sax notes laid in gentle patterns alongside each other. Although the end result is probably only the sum of its parts the simplicity of the music is certainly attractive, nothing is overblown or worked too hard, and in the main the extended sax notes are just allowed to roll slowly past as Johannesen works through a series of small percussive patterns.
Further tracks play around with other dynamics. The second piece, Jack and the Beanstalk has an almost composed feel, the two musicians trading small sounds at a steady pace, and the third, Mikrokosmos becomes much busier, with Furu moving away from tonal sounds to busier flutters and growls. There is nothing bad here at all, but somehow much of the music just feels a little run-of-the-mill, lacking that extra sparkle to make it stand out from the crowd. The opening to the fourth track, Ants Marching is very nice, both musicians making only the tiniest of sounds, but gradually it opens up into busier ground, though a sustained tone from Johannesen midway through is good on the ear.
It is an extended guitar sound, possibly made with an eBow that makes the album’s seventh and final track my favourite by some way. Life on Mars begins with the tinny vibration of an agitated string coupled with slow, languorous held notes from Furu, all very soft and gentle. As the guitar sound shifts through a passage of clattering handheld-fan-against- body moments so the intensity of the clarinet (I think its the clarinet here, though not certain) increases and the long notes get shorter, but underneath a continuous tone appears from the guitar, which hangs heavily in the air for the final three minutes as Furu calms things to just purring murmurs to match the warmth of the tone. This piece, and its closing moments in particular highlight the strengths of The Eco Logic. There is a beguiling simplicity here, a clarity that reminds me of a slightly grittier Los Glissandinos from a few years back. I’d probably have preferred the entire album to have explored this kind of area, but then that is just my personal taste kicking in. All in all, while the earth may not have moved this is a good album by a pair of young musicians with plenty of room to grow, and in places the album shows real promise for things to come. Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)

Guitarist Kim Johannesen and clarinetist Svein Magus Furu travel far beyond the borders of jazz on this release. The music they create here would certainly be more at home in the side room of an art exhibit than a jazz club; it defies the traditional reliance on interacting tonalities and relies almost completely on texture.
Parallels could be drawn to John Zorn's soundtrack to the Ken Jacobs film Celestial subway Lines; Johannesen and Furu seem to be sampling from a similar sonic palette (the scraping of wound guitar strings, the sound of a clarinet reed on the brink dysfunction); but their point of departure is very different. The tracks, with names like: “Room to Grow (Vegetables)”, “Ants Marching”, and “Battle of the Species”, seem to be musical illustrations, with intimations of the grit of the dirt, the clicking of an oversize ants mandibles, or the sound of millions of microscopic legs marching. Little is done to separate the tracks, and the album ends with Furu holding the same quavering note with which he sets it off. This brings the album full circle, like the ecosystem which it describes.
Music like this begs the age old question: what is jazz? Or better yet, what is music? The music here has very little connection to any type of musical tradition, but it defines its subject matter far better than many famous jazz concept albums have in the past. An attentive listener cannot leave this album without having a picture in his or her head of what the players are trying to express: images of a microscopic world that we are in constant contact with, but rarely think about. Tim Madison (JazzReview)

Kim Johannesen og Svein Magnus Furu dukker opp i stadig nye konstellasjoner og forteller oss uopphørlig at her har kongeriket fått to nye musikanter vi skal få mye glede av. I denne duoen, med ei innspilling gjort på det portugisiske selskapet Creative Sources Recordings, møter vi de to i et så åpent og fritt landskap som tenkelig. De sju "låtene" er som skisser der de to sakte, men sikkert kan søke seg fram i et landskap som blir til underveis. Lydbildet er, som alt annet her, totalt forskjellig fra det aller meste som har vederfaret mitt sanseapparat tidligere. De to får horna sine til å låte som alt annet enn saksofoner, klarinetter og gitarer ved hvelp av smatting og overtoner og manipulering av strenger og det blir aldri kjedelig å følge de to på vei mot - ja si det? Dette er totalt åpen musikk som henter like mye inspirasjon fra samtidsmusikk som fra impro-verdenen. Uansett er den et bevis på at vi har med to karer å gjøre som ikke har til hensikt å kompromisse med musikken sin og som åpenbart er i besittelse av et stort potensial. Samme hvor i det musikalske landskapet Kim Johannesen og Svein Magnus Furu dukker opp i åra som kommer, så tror jeg vi gjør lurt i å stille med åpne ører og gjerne også andre åpne sanser. Tor Hammerø (Jazznytt)

Em trio com o baterista Tore Sandbakken, os noruegueses Kim Johannesen (guitarras) e Svein Magnus Furu (saxofone, clarinete) tocam um jazz mais formal e alicerçado sobre o ritmo e a melodia, não muito distante do do trio de Paul Motian com Bill Frisell e Joe Lovano. Em duo, encontram a liberdade necessária a um investimento abstracto, de certo modo alinhado com o reducionismo, mas preferindo neste a lógica textural à interiorização do modelo "near silence". Fazem-no, até, revelando um sentido de musicalidade que muitas vezes está ausente desta corrente da mais radical improvisação livre. Sem dúvida, intrigante. Rui Eduardo Paes (

While the periodic use of motorized appliances on the guitar by Kim Johannesen vaguely recalls the work of Keith Rowe, these two Norwegian musicians also present a broad spectrum of timbres and settings that demonstrate individual character and humour, all deriving from the same sources – guitar, sax and clarinet – yet quite polymorphic in terms of their capricious dynamics and in-depth investigations of particular combinations of altered tones. Furu is a clever reedist, not the least interested in the umpteenth adaptation of subtly hissing emptiness, willing instead to let those pitches be heard, sometimes very loud: certain juxtapositions of extensive quaking honks with the scraped jangle emitted by Johannesen's tormented strings are impressively vicious if listened to at serious volume. The association between Furu’s sputtered quacks and Johannesen’s humid fingers rubbing the wood also brings remarkable results in a who-did-what kind of argument usually ending in a nod of approval. An intelligent record throughout. Massimo Ricci (Paris Transatlantic)

Another guitar plus saxophone duo, just a while ago I've reviewed Rocco-Coxhill and now this nordic pair, beyond the remote possibly also this nordic couple has an avant jazz background I can't see any other similarity. Infact Johannesen and Furu are more contemporary classic oriented in their way of playing and these compositions somehow can be classified that way. The first track opens with what effectively sounds as a long circular drone crossed by some electro-acoustic sounds, a simple idea you may think, but in terms of length they bring this track to a point where they start disgregatin' everything before the end. If one may think that's another ordinary drone driven release the second episode presents a dissonant post Bailey-an impro with a strong intensity and the same idea is repeated here and there in several tracks before the end (tip of hat!). Despite some electro acoustic sketches that's not exactly their cup of tea, therefore when they go for a duo in unison you can bet the proceed shoulder to shoulder. They close the whole narration by returning to a long uniform sound droning even if slightly if compared to the first track, and I think thaat's a wise decision to cerate an interesting tracklist. What I've really appreciated about this cd is the fact differently from many scandinavian improvisers they avoid that repetitive unsound-playing going firmly from pointillism to well played angular notes. Interesting work. Andrea Ferraris (Chain DLK)

The worlds of free improvisation and Noise (with a capital N) are both rich traditions, by now, but they are often kept more separate than they should be. Put them both in a city large enough, for example, and things can get a little clique-y. The folks playing tabletop guitar, twisting knobs on a patch-cord-laden mixer, or blasting homebrew circuitry out of an old PA often eschew the improv shows and their connections to jazz; meanwhile the sometimes ponderous drones and harsh sounds of Noise shows can seem anathema to the focus on instrumental craft and control that often excite the improv crowd. Groups that bridge this divide, like the magnificent Konk Pack, are more rare than they should be.

What an exciting surprise, then, to discover the pairing of Johannesen and Furu, who seem to have their feet firmly placed in both traditions. The opening track, "Room to grow (vegetables)" smacks of the Noise aesthetic: Johannesen's guitar, vibrated and scraped into an undulating machine, sets up the "no rhythm" rhythm of the piece; meanwhile Furu breathes Houtkamp-like overtones into his saxophone. Yet — and here is the improv side of it — the piece avoids the preciousness of some Noise playing, with all its skittishness about making sounds that stand out against the wall of sound. Though centered on drones, this track has phrases. It is mostly about exploring timbres and masses of sound, and Johannesen and Furu do so exquisitely.

Then — boom — "Jack and the beanstalk" begins, and we are fully immersed in European-style free improvisation. The piece would fit nicely on a recording of Derek Bailey in duo with Anthony Braxton, Tony Coe, or Alex Ward. Furu's clarinet plays contemplative, atonal lines as Johannesen clangs and chimes along in the interstices. Though the interplay interesting in its own right, the piece seems almost an homage to that era of playing.

As far as free improvisation goes, the originality and skill of this duo comes out in bolder relief on "Microkosmos." It is a game of split seconds and splintered tones. Johannesen bows his guitar and Furu gives his saxophone a thorough tongue-lashing. This time the attack of the instruments is a bit more up to date, the techniques more extended. But what stands out about the piece is the sheer intuitiveness of the interactions. The two transcend easy call and response interplay, and a web of enmeshed sounds emerges.

The most compelling pieces, though, are the ones that seem to lie between to these two "genres," such as they are, of Noise and improv. "Ants Marching," for example, begins as a thumb wrestling match of extended techniques until Johannsen begins attacking the guitar with vibration devices (e.g. an ebow). At that stage the players seem to coalesce into a single complex machine, whirring and snoring to itself, a fascinating transformation and a great track. Wyman Brantley (The Squid's Ear)

Ce disque est fait de 7 morceaux qui sont de deux "sources" distinctes : pour une moitié des morceaux fait de matières sonores plutôt éloignées de la notion de "notes de musiques" et l’autre qui est plutôt faite de celles-ci.
Ça peut paraître un peu bizarre comme distinguo d’entrée. Mais je me sens obligé de le faire parce qu’il se trouve que j’aime assez bien les morceaux faisant partie d’une des catégories et pas ceux de l’autre. Alors je précise. Les morceaux (1-3-4-7), même s’ils contiennent des notes, et de toute façon il ne faut pas voir là un racisme primaire, sont construits, je sais c’est improvisé mais la construction n’est pas forcément un acte prémédité, donc ces morceaux sont pensés, construits comme des pièces de musique bruitiste.
La deuxième catégorie, des morceaux plus courts, avec des notes celle-ci, mais pas non plus exempte de bruits et sons, je l’entends plus comme une construction de musique contemporaine. Et là j’aime moins. Certains diront que j’exagère un peu avec cette classification. Ils ont raison c’est une grosse ligne pour essayer de traduire une impression d’écoute, pas une recherche de genre. Je n’ai d’ailleurs pas grand chose à faire des genres, donc rien d’étonnant.
Dans la première catégorie que j’ai faite, ça s’amuse, ça trouve, ça grouille, un peu moins la plage 7, et ça s’écoute avec plaisir. Par contre la deuxième, je reste beaucoup plus dubitatif. Je ressens vite un manque. De maîtrise ? De recherche plus approfondie ? De construction plus aboutie ?? Je ne sais pas trop mais je n’en ressors pas convaincu. Benoît Cancoin (Révue & Corrigée)