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CD: Magnus Öström - Parachute | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Magnus Öström - Parachute

CD: Magnus Öström - Parachute

Dense, introspective but rewarding meditations on mortality and minimalism

Öström: a mind still fractured with grief for pianist Esbjörn Svensson

Swedish drummer Magnus Öström is best known as part of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, which became a successful jazz-rock crossover act until Svensson’s tragically early death in a diving accident in 2008. Since then Öström has pursued a solo career (with supporting band), and this, his third album, shows him exploring similar generic territory to e.s.t. Yet the mood is very different: e.s.t. had a knack of creating slow-burning, melodic hits that lingered in the memory like a favourite aroma. They were subtle and complex, but accessible to many outside the usual jazz crowd. Öström was a childhood friend of Svensson’s and has spoken of his enduring grief at his companion’s death, and the title Parachute refers to the solace he finds in music. 

All eight tracks are Öström originals, and jazz-rock is at best a loose description of his style, which also encompasses minimalism (evident throughout, but especially “Junas“). The intensity of Öström’s musical consolations comes through strongly. His solo work lacks the easy charm of e.s.t., but compensates with energetically driving rhythms and, especially, rapid harmonic changes that often sound like the churning thoughts of an anguished mind. Melodies are not Öström’s priority, and these compositions do reward – require, even – repeat listening. But the harmonic density brings enjoyable riches on title track “Parachute”, where the pulsing rhythm and rapid harmonic turnover tussle provocatively. “The Shore of Unsure”, featuring Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick, is a little more restrained, with Eick’s delicate tone and agile articulation weaving beautifully through Öström’s more assertive rhythm.   

It’s not all angst. “The Green Man and the French Horn” dribbles melodic tracery between guitar and piano, while Öström tenderises with brushes and shakers. Occasionally energy levels lag: “Walkabout Bug” has some juicy guitar slide, but otherwise goes nowhere slowly. The final track, “All the Remaining Days”, hints most directly at Öström’s interest in mortality, while Andreas Hourdakis’s pealing guitar again dabs melodramatic blues riffs onto an otherwise rather bleak Nordic palette.    

@matthewwrighter

Öström’s solo work lacks the easy charm of e.s.t., but compensates with energetically driving rhythms

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Average: 3 (1 vote)

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