Swedish pianist-composer Alex Zethson (of Angles 9, Yokada, Goran Kajfeš Tropiques and Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra) has always been interested in how collective musical practices can provide a sense of weightlessness, and how a focused ensemble interplay can blur the lines between different sounding subjects and their sound sources. «Some Of Them Were Never Unprepared»
realizes this sonic experiment with a 13 piece ensemble of string instruments, two grand pianos, three guitars and percussion, including double bass players Torbjörn Zetterberg and Elsa Bergman, and violinists Josefin Runsteen and Anna Lindal. It offers a minimalist, gamelan-tinged composition with echoes of krautrock and the music of Arnold Dreyblatt and Tony Conrad. The album was recorded at the legendary Atlantis Metronome studio in Stockholm in March 2021.
Zethson says that he wanted with «Some Of Them Were Never Unprepared» to reduce the musical material to its minimalist, technically simple components, yet still precision-wise challenging, and at the same time to keep a collective, unison sound of the ensemble. He asked the performers to use string preparations in order to make it difficult for them to distinguish what sounds come from whom or from where. He hoped that such an approach would provide a space for the listener to be immersed in it, and suggest a void full of listening.
The uncompromising, highly disciplined repetitive-minimalist spirit of «Some Of Them Were Never Unprepared» together with the resonating gamelan-like percussive sounds has an immediate, hypnotic effect. But as this suggestive drone progresses and slowly shifts vertically, it also expands horizontally, adds more nuanced and colorful layers and few economic soloist excursions. Mid-piece of the first part of this composition, the dynamics of the ensemble shift its focus to a looser and more urgent, mysterious ritual. The second part of the composition begins with a sparse, almost silent interplay of the ensemble, but soon the string instrument players anchor it with a driving-hypnotic pulse, and its arresting vibrations are expanded and ornamented with exotic and sensual layers as it progresses.
«Some Of Them Were Never Unprepared» is a sonic experience that may surprise even the ones who are prepared with such sonic adventures.
Alex Zethson (p, left channel), Karin Ingves (p, right channel), Anton Toorell (g), Giannis Arapis (g), Kasper Agnas (g), Elsa Bergman (b), Torbjörn Zetterberg (b), Leo Svensson Sander (c), My Hellgren (c), Josefin Runsteen (vio), Anna Lindal (vio, contact mic), Andreas Hiroui Larsson (dr, gongs), Niclas Lindström (shaker)