Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Reflections in Cosmo - Reflections in Cosmo (Rare Noise, 2017)

Combining the improvisational nature of jazz with the emotional heft of rock 'n' roll has been happening thing from the 1960's to the present, and while the controversy of melding these two genres has thankfully ebbed, exploratory musicians like those in Reflections in Cosmo continue the quest for sonic glory. The band consists of Kjetil Moster on saxophones, Hans Magnus Ryan on guitar, Stale Storlokken on keyboards and Thomas Stronen on drums. The album begins with "Cosmosis" which features stomping saxophone charging in and leading the band which gets a huge and smothering sound. Snarling guitar is loud and vivid, as the drums and keyboards develop a complex rhythm that allows the group to build an impressive swagger, connecting with each other with buzzing and crackling energy.  This is quickly followed by "Ironhorse" which sets the pace with long toned shimmering guitar before the drums blast in, developing a heavy rhythm that the saxophone probes and answers with heady smears of sound. The guitar weaves a fine texture in conjunction with the strong rhythm and that leads to and increase in the pace of the music and the overall excitement, culminating in a blasting full band section where the group really bare their teeth. "Cosmic Hymn" has fast clattering percussion, developing a mysterious sound that is further enhanced by the guitar and saxophone which use a raw and guttural sound, snarling like a cat and unfolding in an unpredictable manner. They develop an impressive full band collective improvisation developing a fierce presence that tingles with electricity. Nimble keyboards and percussion lay the foundation for "Balklava" which builds a twisting and grinding heat, before blooming into a full fledged funky fusion feel. "Perpetuum Immobile" moves in a different direction, with a subtle and spare soundscape where the instruments echo ominously before the electric guitar breaks out with jagged shards of sound which are then met by heavy drums and organ that roll forward inexorably gaining momentum. This configuration suits the band well, building to a full improvised roar, and using all of the dynamism they have at their disposal. There is an area of riotous saxophone and heavy drums on "Fuzzstew," developing an all-out assault, creating a deep seated impact. This is heavy duty jazz fusion that is very exciting and develops in unexpected ways with big swathes of keyboards, which frame the strongly played guitar and heavy saxophone which are played with venom and malice aforethought. Finally, "Reflections in Cosmo" winds down the album with nimble drumming and whinnying saxophone coming into play with ripe keyboards filling out the soundscape of taut performance that develops a massive edifice of sound and fury. Overall this was a very well played album that enveloped aspects of high-energy rock 'n' roll into intricately improvised jazz, creating a heady brew that should impress aficionados of either genre. Reflections in Cosmo - amazon.com

Send comments to Tim.