Nakama - New World [Nakama Records - 2022]
It’s getting increasingly harder to tell what newer improv actually is, or where it comes from: free jazz, open composition, electronic improvisation, or just plain old prepared music? Central points of departure and an overall mood are more dominant than styles or musical heritages. And while post-genre is a catch-all and seems like the easy way out, it’s abundantly clear that there’s not an acoustic musician working today who isn’t versed in post-production and the occasional synth patch or two. Enter Nakama, a group of spectacularly well-trained musicians in familiar garb – drums, piano, reeds, bass, and even voice – whose latest album, New World, is just what it claims to be: work beyond the horizon of the known.
Of the nine tracks that make up this scattered, and at times brilliant, release, things are liable to change pretty dramatically. The second track, “Gaki,” interrupts the instrumental clatter with a deep, chanting voice. “L-o” begins as a claustrophobe’s worst nightmare – tight, sticky, with barely any room to breathe – when suddenly, beautiful harmonies emerge, as if the quintet all started speaking the same language.
The dissonance between musical voices is apparently the birth of a new language, one which might ultimately herald a new one. The improvised playing highlights the full tonal range of instruments, as on “Benign,” where Christian Meaas Svendsen slaps his double bass into submission before electronics and wild saxophone solos, and a fat, thumping beat, begin to describe a horizon, up-tempo, like we’re almost there, at the end of the current system.
New World is clearly the result of intense research and playing, and will appeal to free jazz heads especially, who will likely appreciate the full breadth of technique on display, and the stunning unlearning of that which feels familiar. To check it out drop in hereColin Lang