The Mats Eilertsen Trio’s latest album Sails Set is an exquisite album as contemplative as a quiet Flemish interior or a walk in fresh snow. The trio consists of Mats on double bass, Thomas Strønen on drums and Harmen Fraanje on piano and voice. None of the compositions is attributed to any one musician, the album is a deliberate attempt at equality, but in an unforced way. Most of the eleven tracks are quite short, like delicate Japanese poems. They create individual moods, you can listen to them separately or from start to finish, each complements the others.
The album opens with the title track Sails Set, a gentle piano like a breath of wind in a sail, water ripples beneath the boat, there is a sense of possibility, space, exploration and tranquility which pervades the whole album. You are in very safe hands here, like a well-established crew on a ship, each member trusts the others, no-one feels the need to lead or dominate, there are no raised voices. There is perfect empathy, the result is playing as delicate as a spider’s web. On this journey you look at the stars, orbit our earth, make friends with a stray dog, pass a lighthouse, are bathed in moonlight, safely navigate currents, make landfall and feel sand on your toes, listen to some music and finally realise you are alone but you are not lonely, just as it is hard to feel lonely looking at a starry sky.
Sails Set is Mats Eilertsen’s fourth release on the Norwegian label, Hubro. Hubro’s website says the label is dedicated to the album as a physical object. I like that. I appreciate an album as an art work. Have we not all, on occasion, bought an ECM album for the cover alone? This album comes in a simple cardboard sleeve, the liner notes are sparce and cool as glacial ice. Hubro’s website is clean, effective, it does the job without fuss. This extreme simplicity in presentation enables the music to speak, and it does, perfectly. This is music to meditate to. It clears your mind of everyday clutter, leaving you at peace. Highly recommended.