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December 2002

Trygve Seim/Oyvind Braekke/Per Oddvar Johansen
The Source and Different Cikadas
ECM Records

Following his recent debut on ECM, the young Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim returns, bringing his longstanding collective, the Source, with him. Seim formed the group back in music school with trombonist Oyvind Br‘kke and drummer Per Oddvar Johansen. The title of the recording, as impressionist as it sounds, is really literal, as the Source performs here with the Cikada String Quartet (with the occasional addition of trumpet, accordion and piano).

With the exception of two freely improvised pieces and a straight cover of the second movement of Witold Lutoslawski's "String Quartet" (1964), the three Source players share compositional credits. The group cultivates a lush, organic and delicate sound, with breathy, swelling longtones, whispers and pulses from the horn section pitted against the veiny matrix of sound from the strings-often leaving Johansen free to contribute impressionist sounds, like the rustling of leaves. Here, the Source often emphasizes texture and shape underneath simple melodies, and though the echo-rich effect common to ECM releases doesn't always suit all the music on the label, the effect is completely right for the Source's eldritch sound.

If the group errs, it's on the side of delicacy, as some of this music might sound a little too precious and airy to some ears. Those ears would do well to stick around for the brash, almost circuslike "Deluxe," "Sen Kjellertango," with its improbable combination of Piazzolla-style accordion and heavy disco backbeat and the ribald, hard-charging "Uten Forbindelse."

Originally published in December 2002
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