The Norwegian quartet Wako describes its third album as an «urban hallucination of a heated conversation between Pharoah Sanders and Man Ray, or Erik Satie antagonized by Friedrich Nietzsche». Accordingly, «Urolige sinn» (roughly translated as troubled mind), recorded live at the acclaimed studio Athletic Sound, reflects a tense, restless movement between opposite poles. Wako moves back and forth from abstract, minimalist and ethereal atmospheres to intense, muscular energy, allowing itself to focus on a more immediate, improvised approach.
Wako features promising young musicians from the vibrant Trondheim scene – co-leaders-composers sax player Martin Myhre Olsen, leader of the MMO-Ensemble and Megalodon Collective, member of Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Hegge, and pianist Kjetil André Mulelid, leader of his own trio and collaborator of vocalist Emilie Storaas in the duo Kjemile, with bass player Bárður Reinert Poulsen, known from the Espen Berg Trio, and drummer Simon Olderskog Albertsen, who also plays in MMO-Ensemble and Espen Berg Trio. All four musicians operate as a tight, unified musical consciousness that focuses on coherence, synergy and emphatic interplay.
The 13 concise pieces highlight Myhre Olsen ability to suggest evocative atmospheres with only few searching notes as on the improvised «Jernvilje» and «Skogens uklare omriss». He and Mulelid can also articulate strong melodic themes, as on Mulelid’s playful «Skavlet føre» and again on Mulelid’s lyrical «En liten halvtime senere» or his contemplative tone-poem «De som viste oss rundt». Both can also develop a touching, impressionistic theme as on Myhre Olsen’s «Elisabeths vise», a piece that solidifies the seminal influence of Jan Garbarek on his sound. The whole quartet enjoys exploring loose, dissonant and colliding ideas on pieces like «Skumring og det som hører til» and «Den endeløse planen». Wako maintains on «Urolige sinn» a delicate balance between the immediate, rough improvised ideas and the more through composed piece, but only on the last piece «Langt, langt der nede» manages to blend these contradicting poles together.
Kjetil André Mulelid (p), Martin Myhre Olsen (s), Bárður Reinert Poulsen (b), Simon Olderskog Albertsen (dr)