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CD: Marius Neset – Golden Xplosion | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Marius Neset – Golden Xplosion

CD: Marius Neset – Golden Xplosion

From the lovely to the complex, the Norwegian saxist strikes gold

The joy of sax: Marius Neset strikes gold with his Edition Records debut

For the sheer multiplicity of event, the resplendently rich palette of sound and the incendiary aural thrill it detonates, Marius Neset's Golden Xplosion is aptly named. This second solo album from the 25-year-old Norwegian sax player and composer careens between the hyperventilated counterpoint of “City on Fire” and the glacial, slightly ECM-ish soundscape of “Epilogue”.

Neset clearly has omniverous tastes and has listened widely. The ballad playing of Wayne Shorter; the Stravinskian, block-like intercutting of material; the combination of endlessly sustained melodic lines over big, wide open ostinatos so beloved of Pat Metheny; JS Bach's ingenious use of compound melodies – all these things and more get stirred into the capacious stylistic melting pot.

Regarding the influence of Johann Sebastian, “Old Poison (XL)” presents a case in point. Just as Bach did in his famous Chaconne in D minor for solo violin, Neset – through the use of lightning-fast registral leaps - creates a solo melodic line that implies several voices, a compound melody that grows from, and subsequently returns to, a single repeating pitch. As the ballad “Sane” illustrates, he can also do jaw-droppingly lovely as well as fiendishly complex, with a knack for penning melodic lines that go from A to Z by the most scenic route possible.

The quartet features Neset's erstwhile teacher at Copenhagen's Rhythmic Music Conservatory, Django Bates (piano, keyboards, E-flat horn), Jasper Høiby (bass), whose own CD with Phronesis was one of my Albums of the Year in theartsdesk's 2010 New Music Round-up, and Anton Eger (drums). Both Neset and Eger have been members of Bates's stoRMChaser big band, and more recently Neset has joined Django's own quartet, Human Chain. Bates himself has remarked that performing with Neset is a particular joy because he “digests all the numerical games that drummers and bassists concoct and throws them straight back with harmony and melody attached”. To say that the band's rhythmic concept is highly developed would be rather like saying that Bach could compose a bit.

Neset has already bagged Denmark's DPA Competition for Jazz Composers, awarded for Golden Xplosion's densely packed, brilliantly sustained title track. It surely won't be the last award this fine album receives.

Neset can do jaw-droppingly lovely as well as fiendishly complex, with a knack for penning melodic lines that go from A to Z by the most scenic route possible

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