Happiness Not Yet Won
Norwegian free-jazz ensemble Ignore aren’t exactly what I need to fill my jones for their avant-garde countrymen in Jaga Jazzist, but it’s a worthy approximation. Led by guitar/lap steel player Gaute Storsve, the group –which consists of flute, saxophone, bass, drums and occasional vocals– carves out a rich and dynamic sound with predominantly acoustic instruments. The noirish opener “Please Stop All Time Now” sets this tone nicely. Over it’s ten minute life, it spans brassy skronks and dark lilts, and icy cold hues traced by the laguid guitar lines, while Hanne Hukkelberg wafts in and out of the mix with a monotone, “Please stop all time/ Please stop all time now,” and 20 seconds before the track ends she practically gets her wish.
The remaining seven tracks on here never quite get out from the shadow of such a stellar opener, but that doesn’t mean that pleasure can’t be gleaned throughout. Hukkelberg’s gorgeous voice directs traffic on the soft and cavernous trek toward the drum arrhythmia in the middle of “Big, Open Wide.” The title track is built up from guitar harmonics and ever-increasing instrumentation. There’s a fair amount of tension created from the clipped background melody, conflict between bass and drums and shrieking flute. Keeping it at such a quiet and listenable volume only adds to the sense of unease. Clattering percussion and pedal steel are used to evoke a similar feeling on “Thessaly.”
It might take a number of listens to fully wrap your head around Happiness Not Yet Won, but it’s well worth the effort. Even as the title indicates, it’s a goal to strive toward and not something to be taken for granted as easily attained.