What is the Aarhus sound and why do I love it? The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark has turned out some very good musicians such as Alex Jønsson Christensen (The Lost Moose), Jens Mikkel (Lift Me Up So I Can Reach) and Jakob Sørensen (Bagland). All of these musicians have produced works of outstanding musicianship, atmospheric and recognisably Nordic. Hmm… there seems to be a pattern here… and here’s another one – double bass player Anders Ammitzbøll with his debut album (financed by Kickstarter) Hymns For Hearts, as exuberant and fresh an album as those which went before from fellow alumni.
The combination of two guitars makes for a bubbly texture, the two instruments weaving in and out of each other. There is an African highlife lilt to the sound of the two guitars which is very attractive. Anders told me he chose two guitars in order that one could create soundscapes while the other plays a more “traditional” role and it certainly works in this live recording.
The album could be considered as a symphonic shimmering whole, the lovely tunes gently unfold until the uneasy, freer Paranoia. There is the some delicate songlike solo work – sometimes just guitar, sometimes double bass – and plenty of space for the drums. The sound is beautiful, made for vinyl.
This is an impressive, accomplished and confident debut album and we can expect to hear more from this bassist and I hope from this band.
Anders Ammitzbøll Hymns for Heart
- Anders Ammitzbøll, double bass
- Stian Swensson, guitar
- Viktor Sandström, guitar
- Rasmus Iversen, drums
Mary James, 12 April 2016
What a beautiful album cover! Bagland is the serene and haunting debut album from Danish trumpeter and composer Jakob Sørensen. It’s grounded in his Scandinavian roots (the title means support from back home) yet it transcends the dark melancholy of that genre with warm elegant melodies and effortless ensemble playing. Just as Babette’s sumptuous feast triumphed over the bleak landscape and even bleaker lives of her guests in Babette’s Feast (enlightening them physically and emotionally), so Jakob’s clear, supple and joyous tone lends a golden light to this windswept terrain, making it a very inviting place to spend some time.
All the compositions are by Jakob. They are very striking, with a gentle lilt that makes them slip by effortlessly, dreamily – they are so polished and deceptively simple – and showcase Jakob’s flawless command of all registers. A feeling of calmness and contentedness is a hallmark of the Scandinavian sound. And I’d add lyricism, amply demonstrated in the soaring trumpet, the songlike guitar which floats, tinkly percussive effects like wind in the rigging of a sailing boat. There are so many treats on this album, the melodies prompt so many images – the pleasure of riding a horse along the shore, or being wrapped in a fur coat. Particularly attractive is the guitar of Alex Jønsson (other albums here and here) whose expressiveness and delicacy are the perfect foil to Jakob’s trumpet.
Well worth a listen – as is just about everything out of Aarhus Academy!
Jakob Sørensen – trumpet
Alex Jønsson – guitar
Mathias Jæger – piano
Frederik Sakham – doublebass
Frej Lesner – drums
Nellie Parsager Jensen – Clarinet
Sofie Kirk Østergaard – Clarinet
Mary James 16 February 2015
Our taxi driver could not find the venue – it was the Blind Club near the bus station in Belgrade. So we missed what turned out to be a great gig by a band we’d not heard of – Hashima. Our companion said the band had a great guitarist – Igor Mišković – and so our appetites were whetted only to be dashed by dark unnamed streets. The irony of a club for blind people being hard to find was not lost on us.
So I’m now glad to hear what I missed. The band’s name Hashima is taken from the abandoned Japanese island Hashima, whose ghostly and decaying housing complexes (pictured above) are salutary reminders of the transience of all things manmade. The band grew out of poems inspired by the island written by Igor, the inspiration of the Belgrade Jazz Festival, the ideal of free improvisation especially within a quartet, and discussions about cinematography by Tarkovski and Resnais. The band’s backgrounds include free improv, folklore music, fim production, jazz and classical training. The result is something very beautiful, harmonious, mysterious and visual with Eastern influences that make the east stretch from Serbia to Japan, from Balkan folk to Japanese stringed instruments. There is a dreamlike quality to the easy and equal interaction of the band members. There is a delight in sounds – perhaps that sounds odd – but the landscape created sometimes has elements of noise abutting a delicate and serene and rather macabre dance, if you ponder the inspiration of Hashima.
The composition below, recorded at that concert, is an interpretation of a dance by Vasilije Mokranjac whose mysterious, untimely and premature death adds poignancy to this delightfully serpentine and sensuous rendition. It would be great to see them live!
Srđan Mijalković – tenor saxophone
Igor Mišković – semi acoustic guitar
Aleksandar Hristić – drums
Vanja Todorović – double bass
Mary James 9 February 2015