It is always interesting to listen to musicians who attempt to abandon their comfort zones, Much more so, when these musicians succeed to surprise us with a new, bold sonic envelop.
Norwegian drummer-percussionist Jonas Howden Sjøvaag is known from the introspective Eple Trio and his collaborations with sax player Karl Segle, Finnish, Norway-based guitarist Juhani Silvola is known from his folk duo with Scottish fiddler Sarah-Jane summers, who is also based in Norway. Both are also gifted producers and sound technicians, and Sjøvaag is also a visual artist.
Sjøvaag and Silvola debut album as a duo, «Music for Cities», released on Sjøvaag’s label, features five extended improvisations. As its title suggests, the music is urgent, dark and tough, a soundtrack for nowadays urban life. Sjøvaag playing is much more powerful and assertive than his one on the Eple Trio albums while Silvola plays a mean and dirty electric guitar. Both have established a close interplay that enable them to shift organically between pulses and dynamics. Their past experiences allow both to move freely between intense, free-associative improvisations to catchy, rhythmic rock patterns.
The most impressive pieces suggest detailed, cinematic narratives. «Underground», the most impressive one here, has an exotic, dreamy atmosphere. Silvola’s distorted-resonating guitar taints beautifully the pastoral atmosphere that Sjøvaag sets with his precise, sparse pulse. «La Peste» offers a totally different vision, erratic, noisy and nightmarish, but again stresses the imaginative interplay of Sjøvaag and Silvola. The last one, «Quiet and Deadly» can fit easily into the most tense and intense moments of a mysterious, Scandinavian-noir production.
Juhani Silvola (g), Jonas Sjøvaag (dr)