From cutting-edge improvisation to bandoneon virtuosity to deathpunk and alt.country. This month’s musical media impact in the UK is as diverse as it can be.
Earlier this week, The Times ran a round-up of new jazz releases and recommended three recent Norwegian albums; Beady Belle’s Cewbeagappic, Jaga Jazzist’s The Stix and Tord Gustavsen’s Changing Places. The Times’ John Bungey is stunned by the Norwegian music on display: “No one has satisfactorily explained why a country of 4.5 million generates so much music: is it the dark winters? Subsidised music lessons? Rubbish TV?”
Bungey is particularly impressed by Tord Gustavsen’s trio release on ECM – Changing Places: “Gustavsen’s troupe have made the charts at home and they deserve to make a gentle splash here”.
Beady Belle’s latest album Cewbeagappic is described as wistful balladry and cool funk work-outs with a striking mix of electronic and acoustic textures.
Jaga Jazzist’s hailed The Stix album is well received by The Times in two separate reviews. Says Bungey on the latest Jaga release: “This is the avant-garde with a smile on its face”. In another review, Sharon O’Connell awards The Stix four out of five stars and describes the collective as a “ten-piece improv outfit that confounds expectations. The Stix is challenging, but accessible, an inventive playful thing which skitters across territories occupied by Chick Corea, Weather Report and Four Tet, avoiding definition as it goes”.
The Times’ Geoff Brown awards four out of five stars to the Alban Berg Quartet concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall that featured Norwegian guest artist bandoneon player Per Arne Glorvigen – Norwegian wizard of he buttons as Brown points out. Says Brown of the concert: Glorvigen and ABQ stayed wonderfully light and bright. A masterly work; and a performance to match.
It’s a giant leap from Glorvigen’s Pazollaesque antics to the deathpunk of Turbonegro. The Times’ Manish Agarwal calls Turbonegro’s Scandinavian Leather album “the most spectacular comeback of the week” and awards the release four out of five stars. Says Agarwal of the faux-gay rockers: Scandinavian Leather is not only an exhilarating rock’n’roll record, both also a vivid (and frequently hilarious) look at how the sex’n’drugs part of the age-old equation can spiral madly out of control”.
Guardian’s Alexis Petridis awards Turbonegro’s recent show at the Garage in London four out of five stars: Turbonegro’s combination of shock value, cheerily dumb anthemics and lowbrow laughs works perfectly. You have to applaud Turbonegro’s originality”.
Earlier this year, St. Thomas released his third album Hey Harmony (Racing Junior) to great critical acclaim in Norway. Through German label City Slang, the album is now being released throughout Europe. The album is scheduled for UK release on May 26, and the album is picking up favourable reviews already. Hey Harmony is Album Of The Week in Sunday Times and The Fly awards the album five out of five stars in its most recent issue. A quote from The Fly review: “St Thomas, a former Norwegian postie, has produced a work of heart-wrenching beauty”. The X-Ray magazine awards the same release four out of five stars: “There's more to Norway that the denim-clad grease monkeys that are Turbonegro. Hey harmony is a sweet collection of genre-straddling songs that veer from alt.country to yodelling Norwegian folk to the purest of pop. .... Consider him also as a happier Ed Harcourt or more charming Richard Hawley”. sd
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