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01/13/12

Nils Petter Movaer
Baboon Moon
Thirsty Ear

Bill Milkowski reviews trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær's new release

After 2009’s dark and angry Hamada, Norwegian trumpeter and sonic provocateur Molvær returns with gentler sounds and a new trio featuring fellow countrymen Stian Westerhus on guitar and Erland Dahlen on drums. Together they carve out a unique musical niche that falls somewhere between electronica and jazz. On ambient pieces like “A Small Realm,” “Bloodline” and the Zen-like meditation “Blue Fandango,” Molvær plays warm, forlorn-sounding, unaffected trumpet not unlike Miles on “My Funny Valentine.” This softer approach is also carried out on the aptly titled “Prince of Calm” and the first half of the restful title track. (The last part builds to a highly charged drumming crescendo that sounds like portions of Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ.)

Only “Recoil,” which prominently features the leader’s banshee wailing on trumpet, and “Sleep With Echoes,” fueled by Westerhus’ skronky, distortion-laced guitar excursions, recalls the overt bombast of Hamada. What’s unique about this particular project is that Molvær eschews the myriad looping techniques that marked his previous album, although his trumpet is often soaked in long delay lines for eerie effect and occasionally tweaked with a harmonizer to bring an orchestral sound to the proceedings. While Jon Hassell may well have been the innovator of this approach of combining trumpet with advanced electronic techniques for a futuristic mix, Molvær has taken that same aesthetic to some daring and personal places of his own over the past decade. Baboon Moon is yet another triumph in his ongoing explorations.

Originally published in December 2011
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