Jazz seems to dominate the music scene in Norway. Even if it isn’t a jazz track you’re listening to there will be at least a snatch of jazz in it somewhere. It isn’t surprising. There are numerous university and conservatoire music courses across the country that seem to specialise in jazz and how many times have we written “XXX band got started when A met B at the YYY university where they were both studying jazz”?
And so to FALKEVIK, which is a piano trio, the project of Julie Falkevik and with a distinct jazz bent. I don’t know if they met in the same way but it’s more likely than that Manchester United will ever win a trophy with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm. Sorry, Norway.
‘Amplify Me’ is from an album they will release later in the year, I believe it will be called ‘New Constellations’, a follow up to their first full length in 2018 and apart from the regular crew of Julie Falkevik on piano/vocal, Ellen Brekken on bass and Marius Trøan Hansen on drums they were joined by Ola Kvernberg on viola, whose contribution is immense.
Something I’ve found Norwegian bands and artists in this genre to be particularly good at is blending experimentation with mainstream pop. There have been several examples of that recently in NMR, provided by the likes of Husmo HAV, SkarWorX (Øystein Skar), Tortusa, and Rural Tapes and I’m expecting much of the same from the forthcoming second album from Eberson. If you noticed a connection between some of those artists it’s suggestive of how close-knit the scene is there.
The best way I can describe this piece is to say that it takes you on a journey, ‘amplifying’ the commitment of the players at regular intervals as it ratchets up. You can forget verse-chorus-verse-bridge-verse-chorus-finish; that isn’t in the script, it has a momentum of its own like a marathon runner. As it starts it could be Aurora in one of her less frenetic moments (think of ‘Infections of a different kind’ for example) but by the time it ends it’s a freeform session from ‘Jazz Club’ (the spoof sketch from British TV’s ‘The Fast Show’ in the 1990s).
Falkevik have described it as “a comfort and power song“. The comfort is in the sparse, almost terse but softly sung lyrics which provide a sharp contrast to the runaway train of the music.
I’ve often ruminated on what the artists I’ve mentioned here could come up with if they indulged in some mega collaboration project, and it’s scary. But for now we’ll have to wait for this Falkevik album. Bring it on.
’Amplify Me’ was released on April 30th on Drabant Music.