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På skive


«Why Do You Mourn»

The third album of the Swedish-Norwegian quintet The End tells that maybe the end of us all is not as near as this band likes to claim. The End – Swedish vocalist Sofia Jernberg and flutist, baritone sax and live electronics player Mats Gustafsson, with Norwegian clarinetist and tenor sax player Kjetil Møster, baritone and bass guitarist Anders Hana and drummer Børge Fjordheim – has established its own unique and powerful aesthetics. Art rock blends with free jazz and noise blends with poetry, while The End keeps experimenting and pushing its sonic boundaries deeper and forward. Why Do You Mourn was recorded at Electrolüd Studio in Stavanger in September 2021 and May 2022, and the surreal artwork was made by Swedish artist Edward Jarvis who did the artwork for all of The End Albums. This time he put young Jernberg at the center.

As on the previous album of The End, the musical vision is ambitious and inclusive, demanding and unsettling but quite a rewarding one.  The vocals of Jernberg, with her highly personal timbre, phrasing and delivery, as well as her vocal techniques, are the emotional core of The End songs. In the opening piece, «Snow», she takes the intriguing text of Moki Cherry, The Swedish interdisciplinary artist and designer (and spouse of Don Cherry), about troubled relationships and ignites a climatic freak-out and later sketches a fragile and lyrical folk-like song with Hana playing the Norwegian zither, langeleik. Møster’s following «Doomfunk MC’s» offers an apocalyptic and explosive texture that Jernberg ends with a touching note.

«Wasted Blame» and «Whose Face» were inspired by the poetry of Robert Creeley (whose poetry inspired Steve Lacy, Steve Swallow and Radka Toneff among many other musicians). Gustafsson’s music for «Wasted Blame» adopts a traditional Ethiopian theme and his baritone sax duet with Jernberg’s vocals is one of the emotional climaxes of this album. Gustafsson’s music for «Whose Face» opts for a monstrous, free jazz meets metal drama, with Jernberg’s vocals soaring high over the fierce commotion.

«Winter Doesn’t End» is the most surprising song here, originally written by Swedish jazz vocalist Rigmor Gustafsson, and is performed as a straight-ahead folk song with some vocal improvisations of Jernberg with Møster’s singing clarinet. Likewise, the fragile and sparse «Smokey Black» deepens this vein. This brief song was inspired by Swedish graphic designer Sandra Praun’s book Noir – A Serendipitous Encyclopedia Inspired by 1001 Names for the Color Black. The Ends’ bold and adventurous journey concludes with «Black Vivaldi Sonata», suggesting an inspired transformation of the Italian composer to the morbid, restless and nightmarish musical vision of The End, with Jernberg chanting why we need to start a war in heaven. Indeed, why?

Eyal Hareuveni

Sofia Jernberg (v), Mats Gustafsson (fl, bs, live elec), Kjetil Møster (cl, ts, elec), Anders Hana (bar.g, bassg, langeleik), Børge Fjordheim (dr)

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