sat 25/05/2024

Album: The Eivind Aarset 4-Tet - Phantasmagoria, or A Different Kind of Journey | reviews, news & interviews

Album: The Eivind Aarset 4-Tet - Phantasmagoria, or A Different Kind of Journey

Album: The Eivind Aarset 4-Tet - Phantasmagoria, or A Different Kind of Journey

Norwegian jazzers take on space rock

The Eivind Aarset 4-Tet's 'Phantasmagoria, or A Different Kind of Journey': ostensibly a jazz album

Phantasmagoria, or A Different Kind of Journey instantly sets its controls for an excursion into the interstellar void between gaseous and solid objects. Opening cut “Intoxication” begins with lightly pulsing bass and a keyboard texture. Shimmering guitar floats over the top. Though more sparse and lacking vocals, it’s as if Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” were performed by an earlier model of the band which had focussed on reducing performative grandeur as much as possible.

There’s another evocation. When “Intoxication’s” treated guitar arrives, it has a Robert Fripp flavour. The King Crimson mainstay also comes to mind on “Duløc, or The Cat's Eye”. Phantasmagoria’s third track “Outbound, or Stubb1” has subtle undertones drawing a line between the King Crimson of Starless and Bible Black and Discipline. None of this is overt. And, ostensibly, this is a jazz album.

Norway’s Eivind Aarset's resumé is varied. His guitar has been heard on albums by a-ha’s Morten Harket and the UK’s Andy Sheppard. A serial collaborator, Aarset has worked with Norwegian jazz players of all types: Jan Bang, Arve Henriksen and Nils Petter Molvaer amongst them. Before Phantasmagoria, eight albums have been credited to Aarset himself. This, the ninth, also features Erland Dahlen (percussion) Audun Erlien (bass, synth) and Wetle Holte (percussion, keyboards). Jan Bang, John Derek Bishop and Arve Henriksen crop up too. The album’s scope is underlined by the closing track “Light on Sanzu River, or Dreaming of a Boat”, a reconstruction of Anneli Drecker’s “Waiting For a Boat”.

Despite this brush with the familiar, Phantasmagoria, or A Different Kind of Journey occupies its own space. While “Manta Ray, or Soft Spot” is mostly light and twinkling (Henriksen’s trumpet features), it drifts into swirling cascades conjuring visions of a touchdown. The kinetic next track “Didn't See This One Coming” darts back as forth as if escaping a pursuer (smidges of Jaga Jazzist in this one). Overall though, this is an expedition into the endless cosmos.


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