COMPOSERS: Nils Petter Molvaer
WORKS: Solid Ether
PERFORMER: Nils Petter Molvaer (t), Eivind Aarset (g), Audun Erlien (b), DJ Strangefruit (samples), Per Lindvall (d), Rune Arnesen (d), Sidsel Endresen (v)
CATALOGUE NO: 543 365-2
Solid Ether is the follow-up to ECM’s unexpected hit of 1998, Khmer. That earlier release was unusual in that trumpeter Molvaer mixed the underground sounds of drum ’n’ bass with ambient music and overlaid it with his own jazzy trumpet improvisation. The result – Jon Hassell meets Bill Laswell via Roni Size – struck a chord with listeners from Oslo to LA.
Solid Ether picks up where Khmer left off, moving a little away from trance-like techno to a more acoustic, less scary place. Molvaer’s trumpet-playing has the same diffuse, unbrassy quality that nevertheless holds the ears firmly. The electronic beats and sound treatments, although occasionally volcanic, are more subtly arranged so that the trumpet narrative wins through. Hand drums temper the electronic beats with a more natural feel and singer Sidsel Endresen’s brief appearance throws a northern light on the whole piece. The listener is taken somewhere Nordic – gulls cry, the pack ice groans and the wind sighs. And yet standing in the background, in the mist, isn’t that Miles Davis, Don Cherry and even Chet Baker? You feel sure they would have approved. Garry Booth