Food: Mercurial Balm

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ALBUM TITLE: Food: Mercurial Balm
WORKS: Mercurial Balm
PERFORMER: Thomas Strønen (drums), Iain Ballamy (sax), Christian Fennesz, Eivind Aarset, Prakash Sontakke (guitar), Nils Petter Molvaer, etc


For the last few years Food has comprised the core duo of Ballamy and Strønen. They are quite capable of producing a mesmerising album on their own, but here, as is their custom, they have invited some distinguished guests: Molvær appears on one track, Aarset and Sontakke on three, and Fennesz on seven, overlapping with Molvær on ‘Moonpie’.

Food’s basic modus operandi involves a gradual build-up of texture and dynamics. Washes of sound, shot through with percussion figures, will swell up from pianissimo beginnings that are virtually imperceptible: the sounds establish themselves almost before you register their presence. Ballamy’s sax floats in, weightlessly, then increases in intensity and volume, interweaving with Strønen’s multi-timbred, lissom commentaries. Most of the basic material is simple enough, but the deftness and invention with which Food and guests layer and juxtapose the components open up ever more intriguing vistas, resulting in a rich, multi-dimensional experience.


Barry Witherden