nedjelja, 2. prosinca 2012.

Eivind Opsvik - Overseas IV

Zvukovi 18. stoljeća upleteni u suvremeni free jazz. Godina 1786. u brutalnoj šetnji 2012-om.




Bassist/composer Eivind Opsvik’s fourth album in his Overseas series shows his art music continuing to pull from jazz, classical, and popular traditions while shifting away from the atmospheric sound of its predecessor. While drawing from quite a few traditions, the album develops in a reasonably linear manner. The first half of the disc takes the majority of its cues from the classical tradition, going back to the Georgian era. While the harpsichord fades out, the shift to more abrasive jazz on “Robbers and Fairground Folk” is surprising but prepared for. That track, featuring Tony Malaby on sax, leads into the almost prog rock of “Michelle Marie”, a number driven by Brandon Seabrook’s guitar. The rhythm lines here are complex, emblematic of the precision with which much ostensible chaos has been organized. After this accumulation of tradition, the album closes with “Youth Hopeth All Things, Believeth All Things”, a number that merges a chain gang intro with a metal-sounding guitar part while stretching the tones of the album. It’s dissonant enough to be uncomfortable, yet inescapable in its persistent pulse, a fitting close to the arc of Overseas IV.- Justin Cober-Lake

For the past decade, Norwegian-born, New York-based bassist Eivind Opsvik has been leading his venerable Overseas ensemble through a variety of musical terrain, first heard on their self-titled 2003 Fresh Sound New Talent debut. Overseas IV, the second Overseas album to be released on Opsvik's own Loyal Label, features a stripped-down version of the original line-up, albeit one more expansive in its range of musical expression. Inspired in part by Sofia Coppola's 2006 film Marie Antoinette, this fourth recording from Opsvik's flagship band is the strongest yet.
As Opsvik states in a press release about Coppola's movie, "I loved the way modern music was mixed with the imagery of 18th century France." Opsvik inverts this dynamic, seamlessly incorporating antique instrumentation and bygone music forms into a contemporary setting. A key element in this equation is veteran keyboardist Jacob Sacks' addition of harpsichord to his arsenal; the instrument's metallic timbre and classical affiliations imbue the proceedings with an evocative baroque air. In contrast, the newest member, guitar wunderkind Brandon Seabrook, provides a hefty dose of visceral modernity with a riotous patchwork of punk rock attitude and futuristic psychedelia—yet his amplified fretwork unexpectedly harmonizes with the Old World charm of Sacks' scintillating arpeggios. Longstanding drummer Kenny Wollessen and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby feature prominently as well, their multihued efforts playing vital roles in Overseas' melodious sound.
Evincing its historical theme, a stately processional tone infuses the session's rich cinematic ambiance, hearkening from the lush strains of the regal opener, "They Will Hear the Drums—and They Will Answer" to the ramshackle closing march, "Youth Hopeth All Things, Believeth All Things." In-between, the quintet explores an impressive range of sonic vistas, from the aggressive rock anthem "Robbers and Fairground Folk" to the serene meditation "Det Kalde Havet," buoyed by the leader's sonorous arco. The jittery funk of "Michelle Marie" highlights the rhythm section's tightly syncopated interplay, while the phantasmagoric epic "1786" builds from hypnotic minimalism to rhapsodic counterpoint, spotlighting Malaby's ecstatic tenor.
Throughout the date, Opsvik's bold writing deftly juxtaposes nostalgia and modernity, yielding a truly unclassifiable hybrid. One of today's most compelling musical statements, Overseas IV is a fully realized effort whose equitable blend of folksy melody, neo-classical harmonic sophistication, and avant-garde improvisation transcends the limitations of genre.
Track Listing: They Will Hear the Drums - and They Will Answer; White Armour; 1786; Silkweavers' Song; Men on Horses; Robbers and Fairground Folk; Michelle Marie; Nineteen to the Dozen; Det Kalde Havet; Youth Hopeth All Things, Believeth All Things.
Personnel: Eivind Opsvik: bass; Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Brandon Seabrook: electric guitar, mandolin; Jacob Sacks: harpsichord, farfisa organ, piano; Kenny Wollesen: drums, cymbals, timpani, vibraphone, marching machine.- ROY COLLINS

Music can transport a listener across great gulfs of time and space. Many times, you can put on a dusty old LP and feel the aura of a bygone era fill your home. Rarely, however, does this musical journey combine the sounds of modern improvised jazz and rock, with that of 18th century Europe. Incredibly, one of the greatest accomplishments of bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik's newest album, Overseas IV, is its ability to transport the listener to another time and place, creating a cinematic experience that goes beyond the average “jazz” record. Immediately, you no longer feel you are listening to an album, but listening to the soundtrack to an imaginary film, one that takes place in the 1700's, and features men on horses, and women in powdered wigs. Even the album's title lends itself to a comparison with film franchising, as Overseas IV is preceded by Overseas I-III.
From the first beat of Kenny Wollensen's tympani, and the harpsichord splashes by Jacob Sacks on “They Will Hear The Drums – And They Will Answer,” it is obvious that Opsvik is going for something unique, and to my knowledge, unprecedented. The gloomy beat and dry baroque texture is nicely complimented by the lush combination of saxophonist Tony Malaby, and Opsvik bowing a chorale melody in tandem. The long held notes, use of space, and classical harmony transition nicely to dense free improvisation. Aside from being a strange period drama, this film also has action in it. Wollesen's use of broken marches, lurching suddenly into intense rock grooves, transport us out of an Austro-Hungarian drawing room, and into the field of battle, as in “1786,” “Robber and Fairground Folk,” or “Michelle Marie.” Furthermore, his use of various percussive tools, manage to keep the listener grounded in this cinematic fiction, effectively building an imagined landscape for the pieces. On “Youth Hopeth All Things, Believeth all things,” his smashing of a chain on his snare juxtaposed with Malaby's and guitarist Brandon Seabrook's repeated roadhouse blues lick, reminds one of a chain gang marched into a field towards an ominous fate.
One of the most striking elements of this album is the way Opsvik is able to balance the restrained and minimalistic sections, with intensely brutal and chaotic improvisation. Furthermore, though much of the composed material is just a layering of simple parts, they don't fit together totally neatly, and instead put the listener on edge by jarring against each other, creating tension, and very little release. On “Men on Horses,” Wollesen's aggresive clunking on the kit is complimented by loud smashing on the harpsichord by Sacks. Malaby's role on this record is atypical of a saxophonist, as he rarely plays a lead melody, but is usually buried in the middle harmony, or doubling a bass line. His role in this affair is mostly textural, and he has only a few solos. There are times when he is blended into the band so completely, one can barely tell if he's playing on the track. As such, it's a bold move, and a distinct break from the traditional role of the saxophone. There are whole tracks where Malaby will only hold a couple of notes, a sign of restraint, and an understanding of the greater whole by Opsvik and his musicians.
The final piece of this musical puzzle is Brandon Seabrook, the newest addition to the band. Seabrook has one of the more original guitar sounds in recent memory, full of reverb, echo, and a timbre that one can't quite describe. He adds a sonic density to the album that pushes the many of the pieces into hyperdrive, such as on “1786” and “Robber and Fairground Folk.”
Eivind Opsvik has created a truly cinematic experience with Overseas IV, deftly balancing tastefullness with excess, and manages to simultaneously transport the listener back in time 250 years. A unique experience, I look forward to his next album, likely titled Overseas V.- 
  During the last century, most musical genres sustained popular elements while experimental cells explored new possibilities. Nevertheless, jazz seems to have one of the richest claims to raw dancing roots and surging avant garde spirits of any American genre. Eivind Opsvik channels the restlessness and breadth of jazz on his progressive Overseas IV (Loyal Label). While the disc is grandiose and ambitious, Opsvik’s ensemble never hesitates to remind you that jazz music presents a great opportunity to seriously move.
Opsvik plays bass as a leader and ensemble member, scattering his four albums as leader of Overseas across the last decade. On his latest effort with Overseas, Opsvik firmly grounds his experiments and excursions in the ensemble, which maintains a strong rhythmic presence throughout the disc. As a result, the group indulges in robust sounds and strange left turns without moving astray; no instrument grabs any undue spotlight, and at times the layered parts move from focused, rhythmic patterns to exuberant anthems.
Thematically, Overseas and Opsvik use the arrangements to maintain a feeling of enjoyment, a lack of tension. Even the grand swells of emotion or energetic crescendos serve this care free vibe that invokes the club. Maintaining this mood is impressive given the amount of experimental asides the group takes; whether a meandering lull or calm, sparse moment hits or misses with the listener, the group move things along consistently to keep the focus on the overall vibe.
The tracks are sequenced in a way that trade calmer moments for raging, driving cuts. Sometimes, the overall vibe of the group places the emphasis on these louder sequences, but that’s not to say that the softer sequences are without purpose or unsuccessful. “White Armour” is one of the most successful arrangements on the disc, and the robust percussion propels sparse, laid back arrangements. Following an almost blistering call-and-response built around harpsichord stabs on “1786,” “Silkweavers’ Song” provides a notable contrast. The use of harpsichord itself provides a striking timbre that shades the key parts in a surprising light — the keys frequently feel percussive, contrasting the rolling saxophone and roaring guitar.
Overseas flat out rock on “Robbers and Fairground Folk,” setting the stage for soaring saxophone that trades with funky, rhythmic breaks and nearly-dissonant lead guitar on “Michelle Marie.” These songs open perhaps the greatest contrasting sequence in the entire set, exchanging repetitive, staccato rhythms with unpredictable breaks and subdued experimentation. “Youth Hopeth All Things, Believeth All Things” brings it all back together with a steady, chain-gang dirge.
Opsvik and Overseas accomplish a robust undertaking, embracing the avant garde as well as the club. The best moments remind me of that time when jazz was pregnant with rock’n'roll and many of its experimental offspring, bursting with sheer energy above all else. Opsvik embraces that spirit without belaboring the point. - Nicholas Zettel

A Dream I Used to Remember (cover)
Opsvik & Jennings: A Dream I Used to Remember (Loyal Label) 2009 LLCD007 LLVL001
Performed, Composed and Produced by Opsvik & Jennings

Overseas III
Eivind Opsvik: Overseas III (Loyal Label) 2008 LLCD003
Kenny Wollesen, Jacob Sacks, Tony Malaby, Larry Campbell, Jeff Davis, Eivind Opsvik

Rocket Engine
Rocket Engine: What is This That Stands Before Me?(Loyal Label) 2007 LLCD002
Eric Biondo, Mike Pride, Jonathan Goldberger, Aaron Jennings, Ben Gerstein, Jeff Davis, Kris Davis, Eivind Opsvik

Two Miles A Day
Jacob Sacks/Eivind Opsvik/Mat Maneri/Paul Motian: Two Miles A Day (Loyal Label / Yeah Yeah Records ) 2007 LLCD001
Jacob Sacks, Mat Maneri, Paul Motian, Eivind Opsvik

Commuter Anthmes
Opsvik & Jennings: Commuter Anthems (Rune Grammofon) 2007 RCD 2062
Performed, Composed and Produced by Aaron Jennings and Eivind Opsvik

Fløyel Files
Opsvik & Jennings: Fløyel Files (NCM East) 2005 NCM40126
Performed, Composed and Produced by Aaron Jennings and Eivind Opsvik

Overseas II
Eivind Opsvik: Overseas II (Fresh Sound Records) 2005 FSNT 219CD
Kenny Wollesen, Jeff Davis, Craig Taborn, Jacob Sacks, Tony Malaby, Loren Stillman, Eivind Opsvik

Tone Collector
Tone Collector: Tone Collector (Jazzaway) 2005 JARCD012
Tony Malaby, Jeff Davis, Eivind Opsvik

Eivind Opsvik: Overseas (Fresh Sound Records) 2003 FSNT146CD
Craig Taborn, Jacob Sacks, Wells Hanley, Gerald Cleaver, Jeff Davis, Dan Weiss, Loren Stillman, Tony Malaby, Jason Rigby, Eivind Opsvik

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