Nakama – Worst Generation
Nakama – Worst Generation
CATALOGUE NR: NKM013CD/LP
BARCODE: CD 7090040250247, LP 7090040250254
RELEASE DATE: 17th November 2017
FORMAT: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
RECORDED: Studio Amann, Christoph Amann, Vienna, April 2017
MIXED/MASTERED: Christian Obermayer, Strype Audio, August 2017
PRODUCED: Christian Meaas Svendsen
Socrates said «The children nowadays love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise». This quote seems as legit today as it probably was back then. Maybe it is an innate human mechanism to feel a certain disgust and devaluation of ones younger peers and/or feel disrespect for ones seniors. Maybe Socrates was pointing to, unaware of it himself, a characteristic in humans which from generation to generation evolves us into a less and less compassionate, caring and respectful species.
If we look at the world today – what has it all come down to? All the negative effects that human kind is having on the globe – deforestation, extreme pollution, mass extinction of species, climate change, threat of nuclear war… The list goes on and on. Clearly, humans are the ones to be blamed, but is it possible to put blame on any single group of individuals? Is it «The Lucky Few», «Generation X» or maybe even the most recent generation; the «Plurals»? Or do we have to go further back down the line, to the generations comprising the industrial revolution around the 1820s, or perhaps as far back (and maybe even further) as to the generation that Socrates so ferociously scolded, just to find that the blame is just a series of extractions of human behavior degrading over the course of time.
On the other hand new generations also bring with them a sense of hope. Who knows, maybe they’ll get it right this time? But although many generations represent positivism and a sense of change and revolution (some of them even have changed and revolted) none of them have been able to resolve the overhanging negative trends of the situation.
In today’s western world there still lives a total of 5 historically distinguishable generations. The titles on this album is named after them. If it really is so that the bad manners and disrespect that Socrates was talking about has been accumulating in each successive generation since the first human societies, then these five generations must truly be the «Worst Generation» ever in human history. They are all part of our current situation and have all contributed to the current state of affairs.
In our modern society music is one of the most distinguishable factors which separates a generation from its previous one. No matter how abstract, it seems that music is created out of love and/or passion. Still music is often the very thing which separates generations from each other, and even influences a generation so much that their behavior changes into one of «disrespect». Nakama’s music might do the same. Just putting music like this out in the world might broaden the gap with not only our older generations, but also create discord within our own generation. Tearing a rift within the community of our own peers does not intuitively seem to make things better. But at the same time it is this very questioning of the mainstream - in all areas of our lives, not only music - which is the catalyst for change. This album is our comment, and the music our heritage. Who knows - the minority might just have a point, after all. On this album we are solidifying who we are as individuals and as a group, and if that is the worst generation so be it. When we look back in the end the worst generation might just turn out to be the best one.
«Worst Generation» is Nakama’s first fully improvised album, and was recorded as part of a live concert in studio during their first European tour. The album is available on CD, LP and various digital services from the 17th of November. The LP version is in lenticular – the motif changes when viewed from a different angle. The CD is in English on one side and Japanese on the other with the imprint in beautiful gloss. One thing is always something different and at the same time two sides of the same coin...
Agnes Hvizdalek - voice
Adrian Løseth Waade - violin
Ayumi Tanaka - piano
Andreas Wildhagen - drums
Christian Meaas Svendsen - bass
1. The Lucky Few
2. Baby Boomers
3. Gen X
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Adam Baruch - The Soundtrack of my Life
This is the fourth album by the Norwegian ensemble called Nakama, led by bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen, which also includes violinist Adrian Løseth Waade, pianist Ayumi Tanaka and drummer Andreas Wildhagen, and also for the first time the new member of the ensemble, vocalist Agnes Hvizdalek. The album presents five improvised pieces, all credited to the ensemble.
The decision to move towards completely Improvised Music represents the new direction Nakama is pursuing on this album, letting go of all pre-composed elements and immersing into extreme spontaneously created avant-garde music. As a result the music on this album is even more difficult and estranged than their previous recordings, which might limit their contact with the established followers´ base.
Devoid of any clear melodic / harmonic / rhythmic elements, the listener is faced with an abstract expressionist collection of sounds, free to react to those sonic stimuli completely unrestrained by any cognitive limitations. As a result this music might sound completely different to each and every listener, with varying degrees of conceptual communication. Perhaps this is the strongest asset of this music, which expands the communication between the ensemble members further towards the listeners as well.
In spite of the abstract nature of this music, it is neither chaotic nor aggressive. I had no problem to listen to the entire album from the very first time and in fact quite enjoyed it, as I might have enjoyed an exhibition of abstract painting or any other form of abstract Art. Despite the weird and eerie external, there is some internal aesthetic in these improvisations, which manages to come through and touch the listener. This is quite rare occasion when extreme avant-garde manages to personally touch my musical perception so profoundly, which of course I find quite miraculous.
Overall this is an album for a small and "brave" group of hyper-adventurous listeners, who are able to free themselves from all pre-conceptions and miss-conceptions and dive head first into the big unknown. Some of those people might even emerge with a smile on their face, like yours truly.
The Sound Projector
Norwegian bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen is the fellow behind Nakama Records in Norway – more than just running a label, he seems to be trying (in a low-key way) to promote a philosophy of music, a way of working that requires mutual respect (or comradeship) between players. Nakama now appears to be an actual band of the same name, at least it is for today’s offering Worst Generation (NAKAMA RECORDS NKM013CD) created by five players including vocalist Agnes Hvizdalek, violin player Adrian Loseth Waade, pianist Ayumi Tanaka, drummer, Andreas Wildhagen, and Svendsen on bass. As you may recall we very much enjoyed the intense and very personal Index record made by Agnes H. and released in March 2017. But this is not a solo voice record, it’s a group improvisation record, very much so. Nakama as a group have toured Europe in 2017 and made this record while on tour – part of a “live concert in the studio” according to the press.
Of the Nakama releases heard in these quarters (they are all of interest, so far) this one seems most clearly to manifest the intent of “shared respect” which Svendsen aims to cultivate. No single sound dominates, no player is showcased as a star, no ego-gratifying workouts in sight (the concept of “taking a solo” has been banished to the archaic world of 20th-century jazz, evidently). The way that the group sound is so completely integrated is impressive; it gives the sense of an acoustic machine, all parts moving in harmony, at no expense to the dynamism or energy of the music. Quite a rare commodity in today’s over-crowded music world…if group dynamics don’t appeal to you, the creaky and rattly acoustic sound is sure to please; a welcome antidote from digital / synthesized music, from the artifice of the laptop, as once again we’re back with the way that instruments actually sound when played by human beings. It’s largely abstract in nature, yet without resulting in the cold and alienating vibe we sometimes get from those players who concentrate too closely on “extended technique”.
All of this makes for a compelling listen. What we must add to the elements totalled up so far is the underpinning sense of melancholy, tension, and severity; all the tunes sound like they have something to complain about, a target that deserves a critical barb. Well, the target in question appears to be society itself. Whoever came up with the concept – the same person may have written the press release, which is 99% an extended rant about the successive failures of one generation after another – has turned a pessimistic eye on the state of the world and concludes that “in today’s western world there still lives a total of five historically distinguishable generations”. The five pieces here are named after these generations, starting with ‘The Lucky Few’ and going to ‘Plurals’ by way of ‘Baby Boomers’, ‘Gen X’ and ‘Millennials’. Personally I find these pseudo-sociological tags are far too much of a sweeping generalisation, and it’s surprising to find them deployed in this context, but there may be a grain of truth here somewhere. The underlying trend of this album’s argument is that we keep getting it wrong, and that there is a noticeable slide in societal behaviour – as reflected in today’s bad manners and contempt for authority as exhibited by the younger generation. It’s quite poignant that Socrates was saying the exact same thing in Ancient Greece, which I think indicates that as a society we just keep making the same banal observations over and over again, and that the problem (if indeed there is one) is nothing to do with generations, and everything to do with the intractability of human nature. Regardless of the rather simplistic argument, the record is a strong piece of modern contemporary music which I recommend.