Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Nils Petter Molvaer: Baboon Moon

Nils Petter Molvaer (trumpet; electronics)
Baboon Moon (Thirsty Ear; 2011)
Erland Dahlen (drums)
Stian Westerhus (guitars, electronics)

A Nils Petter Molvaer record is always something to celebrate. Baboon Moon is no different. Well...in some ways it is. Molvaer has pared down his outfit to a trio. And while Westerhus and Dahlen have mainly performed with him in live, this set up provides less reliance on dance oriented beats and focuses on acoustic instrumentation and minimal manipulation.

There is a bombastic quality to some of pieces that made me feel as though it was Molvaer backed by King Crimson. "Mercury Heart" storms into view with heavy emphasis on Molvaer's playing (sometimes muted and sometimes just erie trumpet). Dahlen provides a pulverizing presence on drums, while Westerhus delivers all the spacial aspects through some shimmering notes on guitar and electronics.

"Recoil"  ventures into more of a rock territory than anything I've heard Molvaer do in years. There are times where this piece reminded me of the Tonbruket releases. It's powerful, distorted, rhythmic, chaotic and all-around groovy. Dahlen gives an almost tribal display on that will really keep you engaged.

"Prince Of Calm" returns to the more ballad atmospheric material of Molvaer's earliest works. A slow, drone-like feeling dominated by Molvaer's almost teary-eyed performance makes "Prince Of Calm" a very personal piece. "Baboon Moon" builds slowly with Molvaer taking some extended breaths on trumpet with Dahlen and Westerhus instrumenting some lovely rolling effects that cascade louder and louder aided by the subtle harmonies of Susanne Sundfor. Beautiful, distant yet resounding.

While, Nils Petter Molvaer has been important influence on the Norwegian and European scene for almost three decades (including his years before and after Masqualero), Baboon Moon for me sees him regaining is voice and moving in new direction. The stripped down approach for Baboon Moon provides a tighter and more balanced listen for new ears and a real adventure for the die-hard fans like myself. Beautiful work. 

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