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Mats Eilertsen: Skydive

img  Tobias Fischer

Skydive is the perfect title for the new album by Norwegian composer/bassist Mats Eilertsen. Joined by a quartet of piano, guitar, saxophone, and drums, the record focuses on quiet nuance and a sense of space that conjures images of spiraling sedately across the horizon.

“Splendour” opens the album with a shimmering weave of arpeggiated electric guitar and drums that conveys images of floating through the air. Pianist Alexi Tuomarila offers sparse melodic motives and weightless Impressionistic chords that effectively anchor saxophonist Tore Brunborg’s effortless cascades of notes. “Memento” continues the weightlessness with a minimalist, post-rock delivery by guitarist Thomas T. Dahl, whose trebly tone and biting lines act pointedly counter Tuomarila’s watery delivery and Brunborg’s borderline smooth jazz tendencies.  “Birds Perspective,” which opens with unaccompanied, airy saxophone lines before sinking into a gentle bass and drum groove, has an almost cinematic quality, bringing to mind a quiet twilight horizon.

 “SkyDive,” the album’s title track, is the only point during the record where Eilertsen’s proficiency as a bassist, as opposed to composer, truly surfaces. During the song’s introduction, his tender, sul ponticello bowed work creates a simultaneously soulful and hazy counterpart to Dahl’s pointilistic harmonics. Elsewhere, Eilertsen prefers to sit comfortably in the background, anchoring saxophone and guitar musings with a rhythmic approach that smoothly blends muted notes and low-end ostinato figures.  Along with drummer Olavi Louhivuori, the bassist favors subtlety and complimentary figures to more aggressive and intrusive playing. Rather, Eilertsen shines through his arrangements which most often feature unison saxophone/horn lines floating quietly over Tuomarila’s tasteful comping figures.

During Skydive’s closing track, “The Old Oak,” the ensemble steps away from its atmospheric approach. Here, Louhivuori’s cymbal-heavy drumming and Tuomarila’s heavy four-to-the-floor chords propel the group through an energetic groove composition that marries elements of blues, rock and jazz for a satisfying and grounding conclusion to a set of relaxed, spacious pieces that float as effortlessly as clouds through the night sky.

By Hannis Brown

Homepage: Mats Eilertsen
Homepage: Hubro Records

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