We could just say Rune Grammofon and let your imagination run wild from there, but that'd be misleading: Albatrosh actually make jazz, and while 'Night Owl' is their second record on the experimental Norwegian label, it's their fifth on a long, steady career built on tenacious compositional structures and a melodic approach to playing.
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Norwegian jazz not always being my forte I'll describe this in my usual faintly infantile and enthused/bemused fashion
Considering I'm in my bed at 2am under a duvet whilst perusing the opening bars of the incorrectly monikered 'Duvet Day, this Scando-jazbo duo are already fondling my irritation glands. Starting the game of with a playful piano and sax dalliance lasting up to within a minute or two of canoodling. a soupçon of brain flake disintegration suddenly upsets the romance, this blooming thing then begins to blunder briefly into madness as a pony is brought in to clip clop around the studio.
Then it goes all Sapphire and Steel smooth again like lover's jazz. I hope they didn't bring the equine extra into the realm of their clandestine lascivious intentions. No. This is one of those schizo hip beard gallery jazz albums where the minute I start to think of something interesting to say some mad-assed boom-bap low octave piano thrumming comes in, the sax trilling about like a tropical bird on too much birdseed. Then my poor bemused old Bradfordian ears are thrown down a ramp ripping through a misplaced theatrical quad poster for a French New Wave noir flick, delirious rictus grin interplay ensues then suddenly, inexplicably chaos; parping comedy takes the stage for one iota, before tumbling evocative piano improv switchblades into weepy melancholia and then more smarty pants saxophone fannybollocks than a man can stand at this time in the morning. Just scream in my face with it and make me crumble with terror. Just don't make perky over-indulgent incidental muzak for pretentious silent films.
What makes this album both great and appalling at the same time is the sheer amount of undoubted virtuoso talent involved and then, sadly, the often utterly ADD nature of its composition. I like free jazz when It's tearing my head off with sheer brute force or a more refined mood music such as Ornette Coleman. This form of of brief whimsical passage rapidly polarised with the more boisterous leaps lead to a strained aesthetic and a strangled mind. Which irks as some of the more conceptual flickers of genius contained hither and thither are often acoustically rich and resonant and in its more reflective passages, at the core is a most intriguing love and exploration of their instruments. When they're being pompous I get a little headache. Like too many jump cuts in a film, the scope of ideas is indeed impressive, the nature in which they are segued (not that that is that relevant to something that is most probably improvised) confuses my senses and occasionally leaves me feeling a little cold. Neat muso fest if this cornucopia of theatrical arty jazz is yr bag. Give me the rampant Mohel and their ilk anyday.
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- Night Owl by Albatrosh
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