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Norwegian drummer  (and visual artist) Jonas Sjøvaag’s «Turmusikk» (Travelling Music in Norwegian) expands the musical vision that Sjøvaag began to develop in «Commuter Music» (Shipwrekords, 2020), conceived when Sjøvaag was working at Norwegian Music Academy (NMH) and commuted by bus a couple of times a week and needed a soundtrack for thirty minutes. The sonic ambiance of «Commuter Music» exhibited a close sonic connection to Brian Eno’s «Ambient 1 (Music for Airports)» (Editions EG, 1979), but on «Turmusikk» it is expanded and comes closer to Sjøvaag’s work as a jazz musician and as a composer for ensembles featuring a piano, the Eple Trio and Karl Segelem Acoustic Quartet.

Sjøvaag plays all the instruments on «Turmusikk» – piano, synthesizer, guitar, drums and drum machines, and hosts only Scottish fiddler Sarah‐Jane Summers. The album is rooted in the legacy of Nordic jazz, both in its melancholic, contemplative sound and leisured improvisational spirit, and often relies on Sjøvaag’s background as a classical pianist. The titles of the five pieces relate to places that Sjøvaag visited many times, and in a way extending the framework of music for journeys, but without a clear course as on «Commuter Music».

The opening piece, «Overgang fra natt til morgen på Revlitjern» (Transitioning from night till dawn at Revlitjern) continues «Commuter Music». It begins as a cinematic, atmospheric soundscape, slowly evolving and gaining lyrical undercurrents when Sjøvaag begins to play and the piano and matures as a gentle electro-acoustic improvisation, and fades away when the piano sounds are processed.  The brief «Impromptu for øyenstikkere» (Impromptu for Dragonflies) is a solo piano piece, with light electronic ornamentations, that leads into «Bjørnsjøen Indian Summer» (Bjørnsjøen Indian Summer), a piece that offers a tense balance between the acoustic piano musings and the unsettling percussion sounds and the distant atmospheric veins. «Utsikt fra hogstfeltet ved Evenseterbekken» (View from the felling site at Evenseterbekken) explores sparse rhythmic patterns and Sjøvaag sounds here as improvising with himself, playing the drums and the piano. This album ends with «Musikk til en historie vi delvis husker» (Music for a story we partly remember), which repeats the sentimental theme of the opening piece in a heavily processed and fragmented version, with dissonant violin playing of Summers.

Quite an interesting walk.

Eyal Hareuveni

Jonas Sjøvaag (p, g, dr, synth, dr.machines, prog), SarahJane Summers (vio)

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