Nils Petter Molvaer & Moritz von Oswald: 1/1 (2013)

By Published: | 9,598 views
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Nils Petter Molvaer & Moritz von Oswald: 1/1
With the breakup of his trio responsible for the superb Baboon Moon (Sula, 2011), it's been a fair question to wonder: what's next for Nils Petter Molvær? One possible answer is certainly 1/1, the Norwegian trumpeter's debut with German multi- instrumentalist and influential techno producer Moritz von Oswald and his nephew, Laurens. The trio's debut performance at Kristiansand, Norway's 2013 Punkt Festival, while strong, was largely misleading; the show certainly occupied some of 1/1's more ethereal territory, but Molvær and his partners also traveled to far more beat-driven, danceable terrain.

Better, perhaps, for live performance, but being a studio concoction, 1/1 is considerably darker, and all the better for it. Molvær has been playing a lot more unprocessed horn lately, though here it's often drenched in reverb to expand its place in the soundscape. On the opening "Noise 1," a dark synth undercurrent provides the spare context over which Molvær improvises, leading to a final repetitive motif imbued of both the trumpeter's intrinsic lyricism and beautifully pure tone. "Step By Step," on the other hand, is more pulse-driven, initially predicated on a simple synth bass line and some spare electronic percussion. More hypnotic than dance-inducing, as the von Moritzs gradually build the track with nearly imperceptible additional layers, Molvær patiently builds a thematic overlay, providing a clear focus all the more compelling for the long spaces he leaves, creating a terrific sense of tension released only when he reenters.

The set's longest track, "Transition," returns to more brooding terrain. There's a pulse, yes, but soft and subtle, buried within the synth wash that provides the shape and, for Molvær the context. It assumes even more form as a deep bass line emerges, though the composition's harmonic center still retains a somber mood. It's hard to know how much of 1/1 was preplanned and how much was in-the- moment, but there are moments, especially during "Transition," where everyone seems in perfect synch: it's not always the trumpeter following the von Moritzs' synth colors and harmonies; there are times when the keyboardist(s)'s appear to respond to Molvær as well. While the trumpeter's tone is largely clean and pure, there are effects, the only question: is it Molvær In real-time or post-production?

That Molvær is comfortable enough in his own skin to avoid virtuosity for its own sake—instead, focusing heavily on tone, melody and the responsive demands of participating in a trio—is part of what has made him so successful. He possesses chops-a-plenty, and the sophistication of his melodic ideas suggests a deeper harmonic language. But the music comes first, and Molvær's attention to space and tonality has resulted in a distinct voice recognizable from the first note. 1/1 may be a sidestep for Molvær or it may be the first of an ongoing collaboration. One more question to be answered, but in the meantime, 1/1 is a compelling debut from a still-nascent relationship that commands attention, but not through obvious means. Instead, 1/1's marriage of Oswald and Laurens von Moritz's brooding electronica with Molvær's intricate melodism makes for a surprising, late-in- the-year sleeper hit.

Track Listing: Step By Step; Transition; Development (Version); Further; Future; Development (Ricardo Mix Dig); Noise 2.

Personnel: Nils Petter Molvær: trumpet; Moritz von Oswald: programming, recording, synthesizing; Laurens von Oswald: programming, recording, synthesizing.

Record Label: EmArcy

Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus
Sponsor: Summit Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.