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New Constellations

DRABANT DM139CD [39:45]

Recorded Propeller Music Division and Kvadraturen Studios, Oslo, December 2020


Keep The Coordinates

When We Let Go


New Constellations


In Public



Amplify Me

Og så gikk eg meg vill igjen

Falkevik is a trio made up of Julie Falkevik Tungevåg (piano and vocals), Ellen Brekken on bass and Marius Trøan Hansen on drums with David Aleksander Sjølie on the Marxophone on the last track. The Norwegian group’s second album follows its premiere CD, Louder Than I’m Used To, which was very well received by the European press. The trio’s metier is a kind of nexus between jazz and pop which is enhanced by the use of electronica to generate riffs and rhythmic patterns that move from the piano outwards. Their latest album pushes the limits enthusiastically.

The songs are written in English and sung by pianist Julie Falkevik Tungevåg. Maybe, to get some hold on their style, it’s helpful to position them somewhere between EST and The Bad Plus, though obviously their relish for songs puts them at a slight remove from both these powerhouse trios. It’s also true that whilst the bass and drums are in no way subservient to the piano – all generate locked grooves throughout – Falkevik is not really the kind of thrash trio that The Bad Plus is, sometimes at least. So, there’s a more regular drum pulse form the young Norwegian trio allied to those pristine vocals that allow the group to stand within and without those other trio traditions.

But the piano patterns on When We Let Go are strongly reminiscent of EST, and its attractive theme possesses both sonic punch and deft, refined piano stylings and overdubs. There’s a lot going on in these pieces. Traveler has some limpid, rather romantic piano and no vocal whilst the title track has some stabbing piano articulation and unexpected repeating motifs, cleverly subverting expectations. This group really knows how to set loose some catchy grooves, as Changeable shows. Here the overdubs and obvious pop sensibility offer something fresh and attractive, proving the trio never keeps still, is always looking for ways of saying attractive things within the medium.

They solve the problem of predictability in In Public by infiltrating little distortions in the piano over a regular pulse and in Amputation encouraging a pounding bass in the instrument which mixes with Tungevåg’s vocals; here the increase in amplitude really is The Bad Plus territory. By contrast Waltz with its staccati and halting articulation is magnified by the use of what I think is the Wurlitzer, though she also plays a Prophet on the album, and it could be that as well. There’s something Steve Reich-like about the electronica-repeat of Amplify Me but they seem more themselves on the last track, which is the only one sung in their native language and which, with its plangent chords, evokes the deep folkloric traditions of their country in a limpid, cool, slow wash.

The piano trio is a defining ensemble of the last twenty or so years and Scandinavian ensembles are amongst its leading practitioners. Falkevik is a pluralist group, stylistically open to a range of influences, not tied to a single direction. Give them a try.

Jonathan Woolf

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