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«Ancient Land, New Territory»

This is the first recorded musical meeting between Norwegian master double bass player Arild Andersen and drummer-percussionist Jonas Howden Sjøvaag, known for his work with the Eple Trio and in sax player Karl Seglem’s Acoustic Quartet, who is also a gifted photographer and graphic designer.

Sjøvaag initiated this meeting, wanted to explore the rhythmic musicality of both, while he plays on a new percussion setup based on Middle-Eastern hand drums. He thought of a meeting that will sketch new territories between and across genres and cultures, drawing inspiration from the rich Norwegian music history and Andersen extensive experience in playing in folk-jazz formats. Sjøvaag added a short story about the cyclical connection between man and nature and chose titles that suggest a cycle of times during the day.

Sjøvaag does not attempt to play his new percussion set up to in complex, odd-meter Middle-Eastern scales or to use this new setup full power, but to add new colors to his sonic palette. This decision contribute to the unsatisfying outcome of this supposed-to-be promised meeting. Often it sounds as Sjøvaag is busy searching for fitting rhythmic patterns that will trigger Andersen rhythmic and melodic flow, but with limited success. Then both find themselves wandering each other without locking in a rich, driving rhythmic module, as can be expected from such strong musical personalities, and soon any initial interplay disintegrates.

Andersen, on his side, sound as eager to explore new challenging rhythms, but sounds lost in this open-ended meeting. Only when he takes the lead, as on «For Life, Eternal» and «Offering», with minimal touches of Sjøvaag, the pieces takes off. But more often he and Sjøvaag end playing in parallel courses, as on «Sacred Rituals» or «Atmosphere», finding only fleeting common ground in these gentle soundscapes, before resuming their separate ways.

Eyal Hareuveni

Jonas Howden Sjøvaag (doumbek, tar, riq, snare dr, various perc); Arild Andersen (dob, elec)


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