Reviewed by JJ Wheeler
Put this CD into your iTunes and Gracenote’s (albeit not always exact, but still) helpful information finder and it will tell you this album sits under the genre ‘Electronica’. Quite how they came to that conclusion, I don’t know. Personally I wouldn’t know where to begin.
It amazes me just how many different influences (some may not be direct) you can hear in less than 43-minutes worth of music; from the rousing yet still melancholy bass lines shining through on Essets, much akin to that found in the music of Cuong Vu, to the triadic female vocal harmony overdubs that make Wake Up an anthem The Corrs could just as easily have championed.
Taking a more aggressive edge, Call Me, by far the most distinctive and immediately memorable tune on the record, screams delightful rage in a vein similar to New York punksters, Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Yet, the precedent to all this is more what you might have expected when handed a CD by a youthful yet highly trained (all graduates of Oslo’s Norwegian Academy of Music) jazz musicians; something more contemplative, reflective of the region’s natural beauty and stereotypically peaceful nature.
A highly accomplished bass/wordless female vocal prelude by band-leader Ellen Andrea Wang (yes, she could be Norway’s answer to Esperanza Spalding) sets up the first real showpiece, Home with great poise and the heart-felt sentiment that this record never seems to lose.
Full of anthemic hooks, feisty grooves and a sound way beyond that of the chord-less quartet – Jonas Kilmork Vemoy (trumpet), Harald Lassen (tenor), E A Wang (bass), Jon Audun Baar (drums) – this record grips the listener’s ear from opening cadenza to the closing whispers of An Apple In The Country Hill (as blissful as the title suggests). However, it’s what’s in the middle of this expertly balanced musical sandwich that will really turn you on.
Look out for Pixel on tour in the UK/Norway with World Service Project 1-7 and 14-17 Nov 2012.
Categories: CD review