Norway - Full Moon 246 - 09/16/16
Here I Sit, Knowing All Of This
Two Norwegian bands discover new ways forward by looking to the past.
I guess Monkey Plot is a jazz band. The trio all studied at The Norwegian Academy of Music, they've received a price at Moldejazz, they've released a record with Norwigan free jazz legend
Frode Gjerstad. And they play improvised music! But Here I Sit, Knowing All of This, the new album released by Hubro, a label specializing in exactly this kind of genre crossing music,
doesn't really sound like jazz at all. The acoustic chamber jazz of the trio's previous two albums is replaced with electric guitars and driving drums. It's not exactly Bob Dylan going electric,
but it is a definitive change of pace and a turn towards rock.
There's a lot of 70's rock worship going on in Norwegian jazz at the moment, much love is given to hairy power chords, wide legged poses and proggy excess. Monkey Plot sets the dial of
the time machine to the following decade. On some of the tracks on this record Christian Skår Winther's guitar tone sounds eerily similar to something Thurston Moore could've cooked
up in 1985 or so. The songs are short and to the point, behaving almost like proper pop songs, but they are also performed with an exploratory looseness. I guess that's where the jazz comes
into play. The song "Kalla handen" features the Swedish poet Pär Thörn listing up things that are cold, from cold hands to The Cold War. This warm and inviting album could never
fit on that list.
Full Stop Etc.
Moon Relay is not a jazz band. Daniel Meyer Grønvold, Håvard Volden, Ola Høyer and Martin Smådal Larsen play music deeply entrenched in an experimental rock tradition,
from This Heat, via Sonic Youth and early Swans to the post rock of the 90's and beyond. The seven songs of Full Stop Etc., with cryptic names like ">--" or "..../__ (;;;''___'',,,)",
all hum with a menacing dicipline, sometimes the music feels more sculpted than composed. Ola Høyer's bass often gets to dominate the sound, creating deep empty spaces where surgically
placed guitar runs or other noises are deployed for maximum effect.
I guess you could label the music of Moon Relay retro. But it never stoops to the emptiness of copied poses or cheap nostalgia, instead it exists as a personal and constant questioning
of the band's relationship to a rock history they're a part of themselves. That's what makes Full Stop Etc current and alive, and that's why we all should care.
Copyright © 2016 Thor-Eirik Johnsen