The fourth album of the Norwegian quartet Wako is simply titled as the name of the band. «Wako» is an album that summarizes a significant period of this busy, innovative band, presenting itself as a versatile and highly diverse outfit that still wishes to expand its aesthetics with the help of few inspiring friends and colleagues.
«Wako» features 13 compositions penned by sax player Martin Myhre Olsen (who also did the strings arrangements) and pianist Kjetil André Mulelid. Together with double bass player Bárður Reinert Poulsen and drummer Simon Olderskog Albertsen, Wako explores elements of order and chaos, dissonance and harmony and light and shade, crisscrossing into the territories of art-rock, pop songs, and abstract expressionism and often willing to venture deep into the sonic unknown.
The many guests allow Wako to suggest a varied and dramatic program of nuanced textures. The Oslo Strings musicians (who have collaborated before with Wako on «Modes for All Eternity», AMP Music & Records, 2017) contribute to the touching «For Those We Love» and «Dagdrømmeren», both pieces play with elements of Frank Zappa-esque baroque, and the gypsy-like «Savage Detective», with violinist Adrian Løseth Waade. Percussionist-producer Kyrre Laastad adds industrial, space-rock sounds into the lyrical ballad «Stjerneskipet». Vibes player Rob Waring stretches Wako’s rhythmic muscles on the intense «Brain Drain», and even more so with sax player Jonas Kullhammar and Løseth Waade on the playful «Grown-Up Life». Sax players Espen Reinertsen, who plays also on modular synth and effects, and Sissel Vera Pettersen challenge Myhre Olsen on the searching «Le tapis volant» and the tense «Everything Comes To an End». Trumpeter Arve Henriksen surprises on the engaging pop song «Trakterer du musikk» and creates with Myhre Olsen a strong, layered frontline. But Wako is still a powerful jazz unit on its own and dares even more on their own as on the chamber tone poem «Hele verden er en boble» or on the poetic, art-rock piece «When Staring Into Light, We Think».
Kjetil André Mulelid (p), Bárður Reinert Poulsen (b), Martin Myhre Olsen (s), Simon Olderskog Albertsen (dr), Kaja Constance Rogers (vio), Isa Caroline Holmesland (viola), Kaja Pettersen (c), Kyrre Laastad (Roland RE-201), Rob Waring (vib), Espen Reinertsen (s, modular synth, eff.), Arve Henriksen (tp, synth, samp.), Jonas Kullhammar (s),l Adrian Løseth Waade (vio), Sissel Vera Pettersen (s, v)