The Norwegian Nakama ensemble returns with a new lineup and a new album. Vocal artist Agnes Hvizdalek and violinist Adrian Løseth Waade were replaced by woodwinders Andreas Hoem Røysum and Klaus Ellerhusen Holm, who join the leader and double bass player Christian Meaas Svendsen, pianist Ayumi Tanaka and drummer Andreas Wildhagen (who like Holm and Svendsen plays in Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit), all of them leading their own outfits and composers in their won right. Nakama’s sixth and new double album «New World» was recorded at Newtone Studio in Oslo during autumn 2020 and spring 2021.
Nakama is titled after the Japanese word 仲間, which means peer or comrade and the name sums up the philosophy of a record label with respect for each member’s musical agenda, but with a common goal to feed the world with new music. Nakama, with all its lineup changes, is still an adventurous sonic lab that constantly experiments with distinct and free-spirited ways of composting structures and improvisation strategies, plus some post-production treatments.
The album highlights the disciplined and contemplative dynamics of Nakama, which may be related to the Zen Buddhist practice of Svendsen. The chamber, opening piece «Æ-b» fits that category and leaves enough space for the individual contributions of all five musicians. The Buddhist chants of Svendsen are at the center of the sparse and ritualist «Gaki» (hungry ghost in Buddhism, representing beings who are driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way), and continue his work in «New Rituals» (Nakama, 2019). The quiet «Empty Day» deepens the spiritual vein, but Tanaka’s piano playing adds a more impressionist, Nordic jazz dimension to its ritualist essence. «Lament» cements the spiritual atmosphere of «New World» with its obvious dark and melancholic-claustrophobic tone.
The 21-minute title piece stresses again the disciplined approach of Nakama, offering now a spatial texture for the five musicians to work around and triggers the most eccentric interplay.
The eminent front line of Røysum and Holm form a magical sonic unity on the «L-e» and their entangled clarinet voices offer a profound, telepathic interplay that covers a full spectrum of emotions from emotional and fragile to urgent and explosive ones. The post-production treatments to their duet on «ladders» introduces a psychedelic aroma to their inspired playing. «Benign» begins as a solo double bass of Svendsen, surprising with its sensuality and almost funky spirit, later intensified by the whole ensemble. The last piece «Hosono» also suggests this kind of sensuality, again, introduced first by Svendsen, but soon abstracted by the gentle and beautiful interplay of Røysum, holm, Taaka and Wildhagen. Indeed, a «New World» of colorful, musical compositions.
Klaus Ellerhusen Holm (as, bs, Bb cl, Eb cl), Andreas Røysum (Bb cl, bcl, contrabass cl), Ayumi Tanaka (p, some qualified MIDI-inputs in post), Christian Meaas Svendsen (b, v, comp, post-production stuff), Andreas Wildhagen (dr, perc)