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Nils Petter Molvær — Switch (March 24, 2014)

 Nils Petter Molvær — Switch (March 24, 2014)

      Nils Petter Molvær — Switch
   “Letting go is an important discovery on this CD.” — Nils Petter Molvær
   The new album by the master of musical landscapes, Nils Petter Molvær, discovering the clarity of song–orientated structures and stretching the genre boundaries to new limits once again.
   Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær is one of Europe’s most successful and best selling jazz artists. He has his own individual sound, influenced by Scandinavian nature, electronic music and technology as well as by colleagues including Miles Davis and Jon Hassell. His musical journey takes the listener through a wide variety of styles, with varying degrees of abstraction along the way.
   Molvær has performed with musicians such as Bill Laswell, Sidsel Endresen and Eivind Aarset, has surrounded himself with DJs and VJs, but his style and expression remain vivid and unique in every musical project he undertakes.
Born: 18 September 1960, Langevåg, Møre og Romsdal
Instruments: Trumpet
Location: Oslo, Norway
Album release: March 24/April 7, 2014
Record Label: OKeh Records/Sony Music Classical
01 Switch
02 The Kit
03 Intrusion I
04 Quiet Corners
05 Strange Pillows
06 Intrusion VII
07 Bathroom
08 Intrusion VI
09 Somewhere Shady
10 Intrusion III
Portal icon ◊   Switch comes along with great innovations — new band, different approach and original sound. It was recorded in collaboration with Erland Dahlen (drums, metal plate, logdrum, steeldrum, drum machine, Blosson Bells, Xylophone, electric guitar, baritone guitar), Geir Sundstøl (pedal steel guitar, six string bass, national resophonic guitar), Morten Quenild (hyper piano, programming and electronics) and Jon Marius Aareskjold (additional programming).
   The recording is proving the artist’s ambition of never settling for a specific soundscape. Within this album, Nils Petter Molvær is bringing the pedal steel guitar as the main novelty of his newest production. The sound of his trumpet blending with the beauty of the steel guitar gives his music a new sound palette.
   “I have been thinking about using the pedal steel guitar for some years now and, finally, the right time arrived with this new project. This is a change of sound and direction that gives a more melodic line to my sonic universe.” — Nils Petter Molvær
   The title, Switch, can be seen as an underlining of the musical change that occurred on this album. At the same time, it gives its listeners the freedom to decide for the meaning of the title themselves. The album contains ten tracks, of which four have recurrent titles: Intrusion I, Intrusion VII, Intrusion VI and Intrusion III. These songs are related soundwise, being structured mostly as a trumpet — steel guitar duo.    In addition, they mark the unique and unusual presence of the steel guitar.
   Switch is going to be released on March 24, 2014, along with re–issues of six of Molvær’s albums NP3, Recoloured — The Remix Album, Remakes, Re–Vision, ER and Streamer.
   Life’s wheels turn full circle. That is as true of artists as of other mortals. And the new album “Switch” closes a long–turning circle for Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær. Mid–Eighties, he attracted attention alongside Norwegian jazz pioneers Jon Christensen and Arild Andersen in their band Masqualero, a decade later he was busy with his band Khmer laying the foundations of the now–typical Norwegian symbiosis of jazz and electronic music. Since then Molvaer has broken new ground in countless projects, most recently on the hypnotic ambient CD “1/1” of 2013 in duo with the Berlin electronic producer Moritz von Oswald.
   Molvær finds a new musical and narrative approach on each CD, but the guiding light that shines through all his work is the search for the optimum balance between the synthetic and the organic. The new CD “Switch” marks a new climax in this continuing search. Once again, the ingenious iconoclast operates simultaneously in two worlds and on several temporal planes. His complex sounds, some electronically generated, others acoustically elaborated sonic worlds that have an uncannily electronic sound, sends him into a future of urban globalisation, while he retreats with the sound of slide guitar and his own folk–tinged improvisations into a little village remote from metropolitan life.
   Molvær has brought together pedal steel guitarist Geir Sundstol, pianist Morten Qvenild and drummer Erland Dahlen to form a new band, with the slide guitar playing a central part. “I knew from the start that I was going to use a slide guitar,” comments the trumpeter with relish. “I was on the brink of buying one from the noted Norwegian guitarist Stian Carstensen myself. Then events took a different course. I’ve known Geir Sundstol for many years. He is one of Norway’s most in–demand musicians and was really keen to work with us on this. When he began to play, I was enchanted by his sound from the start and knew I had to make this album. I’m not so much in search of my inner reservations on this record as I was on earlier albums. I’m more interested in finding the right way to package particular things. This disc is more peaceful. Perhaps I’m mellowing with age.”
   Molvær certainly sounds uncommonly relaxed on “Switch”. All the Norwegian’s previous albums were characterised by an insurmountable inner polarity between an extremely peace–loving individual and a radical provocateur. This mental conflict sometimes took painful forms. This time, the trumpeter is looking for other contrasts, but the expression of his personality reflects a far more homogeneous whole. “I had some battles to fight with myself on the way to this music,” admits Molvær.    “When we finished recording, we had over 150 minutes of music, for which we had to find a focus. There is a tribute to Joni Mitchell, specially in the titles of the songs. Many of those titles make direct allusions to her lyrics. This train of thought was sometimes more important to me than the melodic aspect.”     The compositional curve that Molvær takes with his pieces is not unrelated to Pink Floyd. Wherever and whenever we as listeners enter the musical process, we are at once caught up in the depth and the constantly changing colour of his world. It is an endless expanse that brooks no escape. It is almost immaterial at what point one accesses the CD as a listener; the music functions as an endless loop without beginning or end. The commencement of each piece is almost as arbitrary as the start and finish of the whole CD. Just as this album closes a circle in Molvaer’s own musical career, the music itself describes a perfect closed circle.
   A major part in this endeavour was played by Erland Dahlen, percussionist on Molvær’s penultimate album “Baboon Moon” and promoted on “Switch” to omnipresent multi-instrumentalist, whose complex soundscapes form the basis for the band’s concerted sound. Dahlen began his career in the Norwegian cult rock band Madrugada, rising quickly to a pivotal role in Scandinavia’s multistylistic jazz scene. Molvær cannot speak too highly of his drummer’s input. “I regard Erland as extremely important. I simply stuck him in my studio with all its devices, instruments and playthings and let him do whatever he fancied. Letting go is an important feature of this CD. Why should I reduce such a multi-tasker to a single function? He has set his stamp upon the music one hundred per cent.”
   Pianist Morten Qvenild from the band In The Country represents another star turn from Norway’s current jazz community for Molvær’s ensemble. The last of the famous five is sound producer Jon Marius Aareskjold. The line–up and philosophy of “Switch” are faintly reminiscent of Molvær’s first solo album “Khmer”. This is not a deliberate return to the past, however, and “Switch” is anything but self-referential. We should see it rather as the self–assured statement of a gifted sonic artist, who has discovered himself on life’s logical orbit. Nils Petter Molvær took one giant step to retrieve his own personality from the past and set out with new energy into the future.
   Nils Petter Molvær by Fiona Talkington, July 2011
   The first time I saw Nils Petter Molvær playing live I thought the world was coming to an end. It was at the Voss Jazz Festival in Norway, my first visit there in 2003. The members of his band were stretched across a huge stage in a sports hall, at the back of which ran black and white images which seared into my mind. The music was urgent, pulsing, unsettling. Cutting through it was the breath of an angel — not the gentle angels of Romantic paintings — but a powerful archangel brandishing a fiery sword — the sound of the trumpet.
   Years later I find myself on a snow–covered beach on the island of Giske near Ålesund on the west coast of Norway. I’m walking with Nils Petter through the snow, teeth chattering in the freezing temperatures, talking about the light, the extraordinary light which swoops and changes over the mountains, the islands and ocean. "That’s my island over there” he tells me. We stop and look across the water. Sula. Where Nils Petter was born in 1960. Out of this playground of forests and mountains comes his first musical memory, Billie Holliday singing "Summertime” on a crackly 78, a present from his parents. This was the soundtrack for the 4 year old who learned to sing it — without understanding a word of course!
   Behind us is Ocean Sound, one of the world’s most beautifully located recording studios, and it’s here Nils Petter is recording his latest album, Baboon Moon (Sony 2011), taking inspiration from the nature he’s so familiar with, and working with his two most recent collaborator’s guitarist Stian Westerhus and drummer Erland Dahlen, musicians who are uncompromising, challenging, who force each other into musical corners snarling, biting, teasing out this raw beauty.
   I tiptoe away. There’s a book lying open in the studio, the spine broken, the pages well thumbed. It’s the poetry of Olav Hauge, a Norwegian poet who died in 1994 whose words strike at the heart of Norwegian nature yet his inspirations came from many parts of the globe. I can understand why Nils Petter is drawn to him, he too is on constant look out for new ideas, new sounds, seeking musical playmates from different countries, different genres, as trumpet player, composer, or producer. Hip hop, rock, house, jazz, classical, electronica, he takes so many elements from these and they are reborn in his music. His list of collaborators is a stellar line-up indeed including Bill Laswell, Herbie Hancock, David Sylvian, Biosphere, the EVA Quartett, Hector Zazou, Gigi, Food, Spin Marvel, Batagraf, Django Bates, Manu Katché, Paolo Fresu… I could go on.
   For many people Khmer (ECM 1997) was a defining moment in Nils Petter’s career. He’d cut his teeth and earned a reputation as a key figure in the Norwegian scene working with the band Masqualero, with Sidsel Endresen, Marilyn Mazur or Jon Balke, but Khmer put him firmly in the spotlight and won the awards. The paradoxically titled Solid Ether (ECM2000) followed, a hard — edged sword with a battalion of musicians on fire, tempered by the simple duo for voice and piano with singer Sidsel Endresen in Merciful. The fast — growing world of technology had its own impact on np3 (Universal 2002) but Nils Petter’s own musical journey remained the master, his ability to create music of symphonic textures with clarity and individuality. It was these qualities which earned him the prestigious Buddy award the following year which also recognised the strong international career he’d forged not just for himself but for his fellow musicians. His globally sought after live performances were celebrated in Streamer (Universal 2004) with recordings from London and Tampere showing fans how works conceived in the studio had grown and developed. ER (Universal 2005) took us into a new, darker land, from the shadows, fragile and lyrical. Three years later, in Revision (Universal 2008) , Nils Petter shared with us some of his global inspirations from the haunting sounds of the Armenian duduk, to muezzin calls, new textures and new thoughts which were already developing in his live performances. And then came Hamada (Universal 2009) with its innocent solo opening and the threatening Cruel Altitude.
   Throughout all this and the busy international touring diary, Nils Petter was writing music for the theatre (including Ibsen’s "Ghosts), and for film, another long list including Edy, Es schläft ein Lied in allen Dingen, Frozen Heart, Stratosphere Girl, The Invention of Love, Leaps and Bounds, Shameless, and the TV series Harry and Charles, and playing a key role in awakening the world to Norway’s key role in the development of jazz and contemporary music.
   The music spilling out of the studio on Giske is still unequivocally Nils Petter Molvær. It has the passion, the ethereal beauty, the darkness, but also the compassion and the heartfelt humanity which you feel is at the centre of his music making all channelled through in a remarkable small brass instrument handmade in Luton.
Discography solo:
Original albums:
1997: Khmer
2000: Solid Ether (with Sidsel Endresen)
2002: NP3
2005: Er
2005: Edy (soundtrack to the film by Guérin–Tillié)
2008: Re–Vision (OST outtakes merged into an album)
2009: Hamada
2011: Baboon Moon
2014: Switch
1996: Kongsberg Jazz Award
1997: Spellemannprisen in the Open class
1998: Gammleng–prisen in the class Jazz
1996: Kongsberg Jazz Award
2000: Spellemannprisen in the Open class
2003: Buddyprisen
2005: Spellemannprisen in the Open class
   All Material © Nils Petter Molvær
Label: http://www.okeh-records.com/
Website: http://www.nilspettermolvaer.info/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/npmolvaer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nils.petter.molvaer

Nils Petter Molvær — Switch (March 24, 2014)



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