The Big YES! Is a new Scandinavian supergroup featuring four young musicians – Swedish sax player Anna Högberg, known from her Attack! and Pombo and previous versions of Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra, Danish trombonist Maria Bertel , known from the Selvhenter group and the G.E.K duo, and the Norwegian rhythm section of double bass player, leader of the Nakama group-label-musicians collective and member of Paal Nilssen-Love’s Large Unit, and drummer Ole Mofjell who plays in such groups as Brute Force, Cokko and Heaven. The Big Yes! Debut album was recorded live in Element Studio, Gothenburg, in April 2018 shortly after the quartet first performances.
The album offers one, 31-minute piece «Kalmar Union», referencing the historic Unio Calmariensis – a union dated from 1397 to 1523 that joined under a single monarch the three kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden (then including most of Finland’s populated areas), and Norway, together with Norway’s overseas dependencies: Iceland, Greenland,the Faroe Islands, and the Northern Isles. The Big YES! seeks to capture a similar energetic synergy of four harmonic individuals in perfect unison, but describes its nowadays dynamics as democratic like Scandinavia itself, but also dangerous like North Korea, and uncompromising like the old USSR.
The border-erasing interplay of The Big Yes!, in the most profound meaning of this concept, is about the art of the moment. Each of the four musicians brings her or his most personal language into the group while interacting closely with the others, in a very intense manner but also in an intimate and very vulnerable ways. The hard-hitting Meaas Svendsen and Mofjell keeps pushing Högberg and Bertel to stratospheric, ecstatic peaks in the first phase of «Kalmar Union». But after seven minutes of high-octane freak-out suddenly Meaas Svendsen introduces a quiet Brazilian rhythmic idea with his bow that triggers a highly imaginative dynamics that involves an employment of an array of extended breathing and bowing techniques. Mid-piece Mofjell begins to build a complex rhythmic pattern and soon all four musicians intensify this rhythmic dialog, adding their own distinct perspectives. Högberg and Bertel, with her trombone attached to different effect-pedals, talk in cryptic tongues while Meaas Svendsen and Mofjell deepen the percolating-infectious rhythmic basis in a kind of weird ritual. But, inevitably, the raw, catalytic power of The Big Yes! explodes in grandiose eruption in the last minutes of this piece, washing with its positive energetic flow even the most evil and toxic lies of the tyrants of North Korea Russia and the agent orange from the USA .
Say a big and very loud YES to The Big YES!
Anna Högberg (s), Maria Bertel (tb), Christian Meaas Svendsen (b), Ole Mofjell (dr)