The End

Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen
RareNoise RNR 097

Unlike many sessions by Swedish tenor and, baritone saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, even with his Punk-Jazz trio, The Thing, Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen moves him firmly away from Jazz contours during six tracks that call more on Hard Rock and Heavy Metal than the improvised tradition. Instrumentally the weight is even heftier, since his associates in The End, Norwegian tenor and, baritone saxophonist Kjetil Møster, whose low-pitched outbursts have, even when playing with Jazzers, always listed closet to Rock than Jazz; fellow Norwegian noise guitarist Anders Hana; Deerhoof’s American drummer Greg Saunier; and Swedish-Ethiopian singer Sofia Jernberg, with whom Gustafsson frequently work elsewhere.

Taste isn’t necessarily an attribute for sessions like this. However even when the two baritone saxophonists kick into high-gear with extended reed bites and interlocked gurgling slurs on tracks like the introductory “Svåmod” and the concluding “Both Sides Out” they don’t blast and squall for their own sakes, but briefly attain a certain sophistication to add sanguine piquancy to the performances. It’s the same with Hana’s riffs that bend and flange but don’t eclipse other textures, and Saunier’s percussion rolls and smacks, which are forceful, but not stentorian.

Jernberg’s vocalese and/or word forming adds another dimension to the program, Overall however when she lets loose with yodeling, choking, whistling, gurgling or stuttering syllables that amplify or contrast with the screams or smears emanating from the saxophones, a notable sonic apogee is reached. There’s almost a point on “Translated Slaughter”, when one of the saxophonists appears to be creating a sympathetic obbligato to her output like a 21st Century duet between Prez and Lady Day.

Pronouncing words and sentences is a more problematic. Spicing her recitations with profanities provides an up-to-date-rap-like urban grittiness for Jernberg. But the sentiments expressed against significant, but overworked targets such as sexism and the sorry state of the world, call out for solution not articulation. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re voiced with gurgled and lowing tone, screamed bat-like or embellished with bel canto respites. In truth, Møster’s and Gustafsson’s low-pitched multiphonic eruptions with the ferocity of wounded bull moose as Hana’s baritone guitar supplies the continuum, are together more gripping than her voiced sentiments on “Don’t Wait”.

This CD with the un-translated Scandinavian title will probably draw those followers of any of the players, especially those committed to domineering Rock-Jazz Riffs. But be prepared to hear each musician performing a little out of his or her comfort zone to make the performances gel.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Svåmod 2. Vemod 3. Translated Slaughter 4, Don’t Wait 5. Rich and Poor 6. Both Sides Out

Personnel: Kjetil Møster (tenor, baritone saxophones, live electronics); Mats Gustafsson (tenor, baritone saxophones, electronics); Anders Hana (baritone guitar); Greg Saunier (drums, voice) and Sofia Jernberg (voice)