February 27, 2022
Andreas Røysum Ensemble
Motvind Records MOT16CD
Flexible enough to inhabit the musical currents projected in Norwegian clarinetist Andreas Røysum’s 75-minute magnum opus, the Scandinavian nonet easily creates a compositional mosaic. Røysum, who has played with other Continental sound explorers, and violinist Hans Kjorstad, provide individualized arrangements to guide the group through the program. With no brass section of piano the nine tracks evolve with a gutsy blend of reeds, strings and percussion.
Parity between the sections and soloists is also established, so that while certain sequences are designed to highlight percussion symmetry string harmonies or reed vamps, there’s designated space for prominent solos. These include Røysum’s chalumeau and bass clarinet elaborations; delicate or dissonant transverse passages from flutist Henriette Eilertsen; and spiccato string slices from Kjorstad. The most elaborate instances of these motif blends occur on the 17¼ minute “Flipp Ut” and the almost 11 minute “Swakuro”. Beginning with a psychedelic march variant with percussion ruffs and repeated horn vamps, the first accelerates to a swing motif that is torqued by string hammering from the violinist, cellist Joel Ring and bassists John Andrew Wilhite-Hannisdal and Christian Meaas Svendsen. Almost immediately the sequence is overtaken by squeaky flute overblowing and a near-Balkan dance rhythm propelled by string swells and reed vamps, intercut with contrapuntal horn asides. Climax arrives in the final two minutes with separate a capella squeezes from Eilertsen and strains from Kjorstad. In contrast, “Sawakuro” alternates between a percussion showcase for the gonging, reverberations and rattles of Ivar Myrset Asheim and a squeaky, altissimo reed synthesis that has TV cop show roots. Measured drum pops soon connect with near-orchestral procession rebounds, which following further bell tree, cymbal and other idiophone thwacks is further challenged by squeezed Aylerian snarls from tenor saxophonist Marthe Lea.
Other tracks deftly mate Nordic versions of Latin percussion with pressurized asides from staccato stings and concentrated upwards bites from the horn section. Still others contrast timbres from bass clarinet and the two double bases; and some even work out the development of funky reed riffs.
Interestingly enough, Røysum’s homage to the influential AACM violinist “Kvintett (For Leroy Jenkins)” allows space for all members of the string section to drive the piece forward with swift and contrasting dynamics, with col legno thwacks and spiccato slides prominent both arco and pizzicato. Reed honks and slurs, string crackles and barnyard noises predominant on “Kvartett (For Joseph Jarman);, named for the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC) stalwart. Channeling AEC-AACM energy, bass clarinet buzzes and saxophone slap tonguing vibrate to narrower pitches, until subsequent mid-range clarion tones lead right into “Keine LSD Blues:”, which with its stuttering sax line and barbed fiddle strokes is more funky blues than acid trip replication.
With Fredsfanatisme Røysum proves he has a particularly synthesized POMO musical vision and the right ensemble to interpret it. Hopefully there will be more examples of this in the future.
Track Listing: 1. Til Tell Teigen 2. Lalibela 3. Hina 4. Flipp Ut 5. Kvintett (For Leroy Jenkins) 6. Sawakuro 7. Kvartett (For Joseph Jarman) 8. Keine LSD Blues 9. Jakter På Røyskatten
Personnel: Andreas Røysum (clarinet, bass clarinet and double bass clarinet); Henriette Eilertsen (flute); Signe Emmeluth (alto saxophone); Marthe Lea (tenor saxophone); Hans Kjorstad (violin); Joel Ring (cello, bass); John Andrew Wilhite-Hannisdal, Christian Meaas Svendsen (bass); Ivar Myrset Asheim (drums, percussion)