Nakama - Grand Line

Grand Lines Digitalt Cover.jpg
Grand Lines Digitalt Cover.jpg

Nakama - Grand Line

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CATALOGUE NR: NKM004CD/LP

BARCODE: CD 7090040250063, LP 7090040250070

RELEASE DATE: 23rd May 2016

FORMAT: CD, double LP, digital download, streaming

RECORDED: Rainbow Studio, Jan Erik Kongshaug

MIXED/MASTERED: Strype Audio, Christian Obermayer

PRODUCED: Nakama & Christian Obermayer

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The music on Grand Line consists of two separate components: musical compositions and form compositions, and explores form as a malleable object in shaping musical content. Founded on a fixed music material it is an approach which mixes arbitrariness with intention, and at the same time relying heavily on the creativity of the players involved. The sounding result might seem entropic, and at times leave both listeners and performers puzzled and perplexed, but the goal with the recording has not been to restate what has already been defined or accepted, but to challenge recognizable patterns and contribute to the expansion and evolution of our musical consciousness and the multitude of possibilities in which musical events can order themselves. 

 

TRACK LIST
1. Doremingo + Taiko__Grand Line
2. The Sun__Uzumaki
3. Nanika__Decks
4. Tsunagari__Split&Curve
5. Kusama__Events
6. Suffering feat. Daily Choices Fail Compilation
7. Daily Choices__Metro

PERSONNEL
Adrian Løseth Waade - violin
Ayumi Tanaka - piano
Andreas Wildhagen - drums
Christian Meaas Svendsen - double bass, comp.

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REVIEWS

Adam Baruch - Soundtrack of my life

This is the second album by the Norwegian quartet Nakama, led by bassist / composer Christian Meaas Svendsen and also including violinist Adrian Loseth Waade, Japanese (resident in Norway) pianist Ayumi Tanaka and drummer Andreas Wildhagen. Together they perform seven original compositions, all by Svendsen.

The elaborate and beautifully designed packaging of the album explains a concept of musical compositions and form compositions, their correlations and how the music on this album presents a new approach to music making. Personally I listened to this music based on what I hear, rather than trying to follow the conceptual structure, as I believe that the sounds speak for themselves, often regardless of what the composer and the performers had in mind.

The music has a very Classical / Chamber character, and although improvised, it sounds quite tamed and organized most of the time. The overall character of the music is similar to contemporary Classical pieces, composed in Europe in the last fifty years or so and can be heard during contemporary chamber music festivals. The melodic fragments and rhythmic pulses work together like pieces of a puzzle, creating a kaleidoscopic collage, which keeps changing all the time.

Surprisingly and quite against the odds I find this music to be very communicative and engaging, which for this type of music is very rare. The musicians share the process of creation very effectively and each of them adds a different layer, which then amalgamates and intertwines with the layers created by the other players, creating a kinetic sound sculpture which develops on the fly.

Although "strange" and innovative, this music offers a lot of space and silence between the notes, which enables it to breathe and the listener to absorb and respond, both emotionally and intellectually, without being overloaded. As a result this music is fun to listen to and does not require the listener to follow the "plan" behind it, but accept it in its "natural" form. Even though basically very far away from the Jazz idiom, Free Jazz / Improvising Music fans should be able to enjoy this music immensely. I definitely propose to everyone to check it out, as it definitely deserves to be discovered. It is also worth mentioning that the sound quality of this recording is stunning, which is hardly surprising since it was recorded at the legendary Rainbow Studio in Oslo and engineered by Jan Erik Kongshaug.

 

Terje Mosnes - Jazzinorge

Kvartetten Nakama er anført av bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen, men de fire musikerne er likestilte i utforskningen av de teoriene de hengir seg til. Bandet utforsker form som noe plastisk og fleksibelt, i motsetning til det form gjerne er i improvisert musikk, nemlig enten helt satt eller helt fri. Jeg har det fra bassistens munn, men jeg trenger det strengt tatt ikke i møtene med musikken. Nakama har en væremåte og en tilnærming som avsetter seg direkte i de uttrykkene de skaper. Alt jeg trenger å gjøre som lytter, er å sette i gang et lite frigjøringsprosjekt i meg selv og åpne meg mot det ferske. Grand Line er bandets andre album, og musikken låter både forskjellig og gjenkjennelig sammenlignet med den på det første. I sin søken etter et nytt verktøy til å improvisere med, til å forme innhold, finner Nakama fram. Det jeg hører, har en egenart som peker på noe mer enn seg selv. Selv om musikken kan beskrives som akademisk sval, rommer den et engasjement og en troverdighet som hever den. Det gjennomgående elementet av overraskelse, blir formidlet med tydelighet.

Adrian Løseth Waade spiller fiolin, Ayumi Tanaka piano og Andreas Wildhagen trommer. Man kan si at de legger igjen egoene sine utenfor musikken, men de fyller det kollektive uttrykket med seg selv. De legger også inn en dyktighet som aldri gjøres til poeng. Det faller ikke naturlig å framheve noen av dem. Bare alle. Jeg opplever de syv stykkene som del av samme velsmakende kake, men det fins partier og lag i dem som kommer med mer krem enn andre. Ta for eksempel «Tsunagari». Anslaget har et romantisk islett. Det brytes ned før det rekker å blusse. Fortsettelsen kombinerer innadvendt bass og lystige grep, og det skapes møter som vekker undring. Musikken forener tilsynelatende motstridende elementer. «Daily Choices» er et stykke der instrumentene tar betenkningstid, og pausene bærer på egen mening. Lyden er dagklar. Man kommer tett på. Albumet er innspilt I Rainbow Studio med Jan Erik Kongshaug ved spakene. De korte pausene og de avventende elementene trekker oppmerksomheten til seg. Musikken åpner seg stykkevis, og dette skaper spenning. At mønstre plutselig brytes, innfrir nærmest en forventning. Nakamas lek med form blir innhold i musikken. Møtene med de syv avdelingene får meg til å reflektere, men det er ingen intellektuell øvelse å komme gjennom. Lekenheten gjennomsyrer stoffet. I den norske artistfloraen har det etter hvert blitt mange som lar ingredienser fra samtidsmusikk, jazz og fri form inngå i særegenhetene sine. Nakama gjør en helt egen symbiose. Det jeg sitter igjen med, er noe å tro på og en fin liten verden å være i. 

 

Eyal Haruevini - Salt Peanuts

The Norwegian quartet Nakama is one of the most interesting and challenging working bands today. The quartet released its bold debut album, Before the Storm, that investigated silence as key element in its musical syntax on the end of 2015, now releasing an altogether different one, Grand Line, and already recorded a third one. The quartet is led by prolific double bass player and composer Christian Meaas Svendsen and featuring pianist Ayumi Tanaka, violinist Adrian Løseth Waade and drummer Andreas Wildhagen. All are playing in countless other groups as Ayumi Tanaka Trio, Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit, Mopti and Skadedyr.

On this album Svendsen is questioning the basic concept of form, i.e. the recognizable patterns that are the main components of musical act, but without turning the musical act into form-less, open- ended, non-idiomatic free improvisation. The music on Grand Line is meant to suggest a space that floats freely between the pole of composed, set forms and the pole of the improvised textures. The compositions are built from two main components: musical compositions that dictate the content (themes, harmonies, rhythms, tempos, dynamics) and form compositions (referencing the choices within the compositions, leaping backwards or forwards or repeating a section, abstracted as lines, solid, dashed and horizontal, and circles that indicate repetitions). These compositional tools challenge the musicians to find new ways to combine between the arbitrary and the intentional elements, the linear, the cyclic and the exponential narratives, as well us, the listeners..

This compositional method may sound cerebral, but it offers new insights and deeper understanding of the unique syntax of the musical language of Nakama. It expands the the vocabulary of the quartet, as a unit and as individual improvisers, in a manner similar to the great musical game of John Zorn, Cobra, or the works of contemporary, experimental composers as John Cage or Iannis Xenakis Despite the academic introduction the music sound fresh, flowing with its own inner logic and sense of fluid architecture and drama. It may sound weird and puzzling at first, but with repeated listenings it becomes more organic and coherent. Nakama interplay on Grand Line solidifies the minimalist and introspective, sometimes ritualistic of Before the Storm, performed with great focus and admirable invention.

Nakama sound as group that has found its idiosyncratic voice that embraces the resourcefulness of its musicians – Tanka on the 28-minutes of «Doremingo + Taiko/Grand Line», Waade on «The Sun/Uzumaki», Wildhagen on «Nanika/Decks», and Svendsen throughout the album. Nakama language is still bold and intriguing, it navigates freely between the European school of free improvised music, free jazz modern and experimental contemporary music and ceremonial Buddhist music, and keeps expanding and refining it.