Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Plunge: Swedish Accesibility?

Plunge (group; formed 2001)
Andreas Andersson (sax)
Mattias Hjorth (bass)
Peter Nilsson (drums)

Swedish trio Plunge were a bit of a revelation for me. I was stumbling around in a used record with 12 USD (9 Euros) in my pocket. I had no idea what I wanted that day. I noticed a CD by a band name Plunge. The artwork wasn't very convincing but I had a strange feeling this was meant for me. I decided to picked up the album and had 2 USD left to spend (not much you can buy with two dollars).

I had a small apprehension because I felt my collection was overflowing with trio albums but once I got home and put their debut CD Plunge (Kopasetic) things change within minutes. Plunge present a very different element. While this may be considered free jazz or avant garde and there is definitely a improvisational aspect to the recording, there is a great deal on structure, melody and interplay that can make this appealing to the average jazz listener.

The opening piece "Exhibit A" is great statement of intent by this young band. "Exhibit A" builds slowly with some powerful counterpoint from Andersson and Nilsson and subtle undertones from Hjorth. This is precision at its best. Plunge don't sound like many of their Scandinavian counterparts. There is a real sense of accessibility within the experimental elements of their songs. This is evident of both "Solace" and "Bommen", both are loose ballads that have nice rhythmic beauty to them. Nilsson and Hjorth move freely next to Andersson's richly toned lyrics.

The album does have is serious free jazz moment with "Ebonology" which could almost be a David S. Ware or Ken Vandermark piece in its dynamic approach. "Ebonology" shifts from silence to catharsis and back again with effortless precision. Even the non-free jazz listener would be impressed.

Plunge have definitely set a marker for how harmonics, improvisation and accessibility can coexist. Their debut was a great find. And while their music is available for download I have forced myself into the always frustrating but rewarding journey of tracking down the physical CDs. For those of you out there interested in free jazz/avant garde but might be afraid because you might not "get it" or its too difficult to follow--Plunge might be the best offering and entry for you. Well worth your checking out. It was 10 dollars well spent for me...

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