Smiling & Waving
For those moments when you’re on your own, in touch with no one and nothing except what is immediately present before you, Anja Garbarek has produced the perfect soundtrack with this, her third and finest release so far. The songs, eerily whispered portrayals of moments lived on the edge of emotional breakdown, are both beautiful and scary, intimate yet distant reflections and explorations. Her father, the internationally renowned jazz player Jan Garbarek, must have taught her quite a bit about the use of space and gaps in music, as evidenced on most tracks here ñ and in sharp contrast to her previous album, the noisy (though brilliant) soundscape that was Balloon Mood. Mark Hollis is another musician who has grown increasingly aware of the use of silence in music, and here he contributes as musician and co-writer on several tracks. A perfect foil for Garbarek if ever there was one, and this album is indeed reminiscent of Hollis’ latter-day work with Talk Talk, as well as his solo material.
However, this must not detract from the fact that this is Garbarek’s own musical vision completely. These songs are far too idiosyncratic and personal to be regarded as anything but music that stands on its own, that moves by itself, yet always aware of what exists around it. There are constant traces of other people’s footsteps on the album, although that never overshadows the unity and clarity of vision here. Take for example The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band’s “I Won’t Hurt You,” the only cover included here and one of the album’s finest moments. Tucked away close to the end, Garbarek makes the song her own without denying it its descent, so to speak, as she both gains meaning from it and fills it with her own intentions and sounds. Both personal and communicative, introvert and outreaching, this is a beautiful and intense album that should see Garbarek gain respect and admiration from a new audience willing to partake in this artist’s unique and stunning musical vision.
Anja Garbarek: http://www.anjagarbarek.com