Horse Orchestra

The Milkman Cometh
ZEE 2021 07

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten BR>

(Exit) Knarr

Odin Records ODIN 9579

Two largish ensembles from the northernmost parts of Europe have created programs that are almost antithetical but reflect the non-standard ethos of the ever-burgeoning Nordic improvised music scene. Precise and somewhat solemn, (Exit) Knarr is the result of a commission for peripatetic Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten from his country’s Vossajazz Festival interpreted by an octet of Scandinavian players. Performed by a similar cross section of musicians from Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, the Copenhagen-based Horse Orchestra is a club band par excellence. Directed by local pianist Jeppe Zeeberg, the septet propels a set of originals and adapted tunes in a highly rhythmic, almost zany manner.

Known for his membership in many groups, Håker Flaten’s compositions are no less metric than those on the other disc. However the six compositions are dedicated to six cities in which he lived, Luckily they’re accomplished enough to be accepted on instrumental merits, regardless of any program music affiliations. Sonic suggests may also be at variance with what noises are commonly associated with those communities. The tiny alpine community of Oppdal, Norway celebrated by “Hakkåran” begins and ends with a reed and brass canon. Yet despite formal comping from pianist Oscar Grönberg, guitarist Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir’s Balkan dance-like strums coupled with high-pitched almost mariachi blowing from trumpeter Eivind Lønning, the piece moves horizontally encompassing an overlay quick stops and plucks from the bassist. Screeching brass, reed spawls and heavily amplified guitar and electric bass vibrations are heard on “Museumplein - For Amsterdam”. But the pressurized crescendo of unbridled cymbal smacks and rattling ruffs from dual percussionists Veslemøy Narvesen and Olaf Olsen sprawl climatically towards Norwegian Death Metal rather than discreet Holland prettiness. Compositions saluting Chicago, Trondheim, Austin and Mexico City also play with this geographical dislocation. Whole octet vamps, defined near-African beats, tremolo organ shudders and ascending split tone and smears from saxophonists Mette Rasmussen and Atle Nymo project intriguing sonic affiliations. Throughout Håker Flaten’s fluid bass work with electric thuds or acoustic slaps helps to situate each part of the suite into a logical whole.

Such precise sonic architecture appears to be as far from the Horse Orchestra’s performance scheme as Chicago is from Copenhagen. Mostly recorded in a live setting, looseness and invention predominate on the session, but without orchestral sloppiness Pivotal to this strategy are the two tunes played that weren’t composed by Zeeberg, or brass player Petter Hängsel. One is the Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm”, the other written by UK video-game music maker David Whittaker. Horse Orchestra shows its originality by introducing the first, one of the most played songs in history, with percussion clatters from the whole band and a Swing era-like horn riffs up and down the scale before the familiar melody locks in and is subsequently deconstructed by stop-time keyboard vamps and Ingimar Andersen’s slippery tenor saxophone solo. Back to the future as another pseudo-Swing romp, Whittaker’s “Xenon - Sector 1” is given a clockwork like stop/start performance with Nicolai Kaas Claesson’s walking bass, a torqued saxophone reprise. Basie-like piano comping and breaks by drummer Rune Lohse utilizing ruffs, rolls, bells, tambourine slap and enough hotcha to make Gene Krupa jealous. While the title track is low key with carefully arranged descending band motifs and Kimestad turns a trumpet lead to brassy flutters, most other tracks lope along at tempos ranging from andante to allegro. Odd noises predominate along with interludes which cannily show off individual talents without disturbing the groove or sequence evolution. Among them are piano key clips, distinctive subterranean tuba burbles from Kristian Tangvik, and the mid-section of “Behold Time” where Hängsel slides his trombone output to emphasized smears, slips and slathers, which become heavier, more raucous and emphasized as they push the exposition forward seconded by drum thumps and tuba burps/.

Social democracy and cold weather seem to have created adaptable and inventive musician in the Nordic sector for many years. Despite Covid and other disruptions these sessions prove these characteristics have only been intensified recently.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Knarr: 1. Miles Ave - For Austin 2. Beinken - For Trondheim 3, Hakkåran - For Oppdal 4. À La Lala Love You - For Chicago 5. Chaos Pad - For Mexico City 6. Museumplein - For Amsterdam

Personnel: Knarr: Eivind Lønning (trumpet); Mette Rasmussen (alto saxophone); Atle Nymo (tenor saxophone, Bb, bass clarinets); Oscar Grönberg (piano, keyboards); Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir (guitar); Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass, electric bass); Veslemøy Narvesen and Olaf Olsen: (drums, percussion)

Track Listing: Milkman:1. Intro 2. Fucking Dishonest Shit Politicians 3. Mr. One 4. I Got Rhythm 5. Xenon – Sector 1 6. Behold Time 7. Montag ist vielleicht der lustigste Tag 8. The Milkman Cometh 9. BCC

Personnel: Milkman: Erik Kimestad (trumpet, flügelhorn, percussion); Petter Hängsel (trombone, march. baritone, French. horn, percussion); Kristian Tangvik (tuba, percussion); Ingimar Andersen (tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute, percussion); Jeppe Zeeberg (piano, electric. piano, organ, percussion); Nicolai Kaas Claesson (bass, percussion); Rune Lohse (drums, percussion)