«Let’s do something meditative», suggested Danish drummer Emil de Waal to his long-standing musical partner, Swedish, Copenhagen-based multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren. Both have been working together and apart, in and outside the Danish jazz milieu for about twenty years now. Ljunggren has worked with Olöf Arnalds, Daniel Lanois and Robyn, among many others, while de Waal collaborated with the more experimental pianist Wayne Horvitz and bass player Kato Hideki. Together they have worked together recently with pianist Søren Kjærgaard and clarinetist Elith «Nulle» Nykjær («Handmade In Denmark», 2013 «Old Dreams», 2016 and «Gamle nyheder, 2017). All three are reviewed on salt-peanuts.eu.
The debut, self-titled album of de Waal and Ljunggren as a duo did not turn out as meditative as they have wished, though it has an ethereal atmosphere. So, only hyperactive persons with clear tendencies towards edgy music would consider meditating with it. Still, this album, recorded live with no overdubs in Copenhagen on November 2017 (and mixed in New York by Andy Green, who has worked with the Velvet Underground and John Cale), may surprise many who consider de Waal and Ljunggren as veterans. These resourceful, imaginative musicians still produce very powerful, vivid music.
The nine pieces were composed exclusively for this project, each has its own identity. The opening, breezy piece, «Skomakarskeppet» is a tribute to the preserved island in the Stockholm’s archipelago. «Ørken» suggests an intoxicating melodic theme, dominated by Ljunggrens guitars that quote West-African rhythmic patterns. «Krathuset» offers a restless, electronic-enigmatic, cinematic setting that can easily be employed by futurist, Scandinavian-noir production. The mysterious «Where, Else?» deepens the cinematic vein and employs samples of de Waal’s grandmother’s old grand piano, but cements it within a hypnotic pulse. «Strung Hi» turns to a delicate, caressing course with its folkish melody. «Unibit» may be used as a soundtrack for the thinking-person gym. «Hongjon» mixes cleverly a dark, sci-fi vision with an exotic, East-European folk melody. «STUK» revolves around pensive motifs and a light pulse and only the last «Platan» realizes de Waal and Ljunggren plan to play someting meditative.
Emil de Waal (dr, elec, prog, perc), Gustaf Ljunggren (keys, g, steel guitar, prog)