Sidsel Endresen & Bugge Wesseltoft – Out Here, In There

Sidsel Endresen & Bugge Wesseltoft – Out Here, In There – 3.5/5

When people talk about jazz it’s often the classics that come to mind; Pascorius and McLaughlin, Hancock, Davis, Rich and so on, but all the legends mentioned here are from the past. The genre for many seems to have almost entirely ended in the 70s with only the slightest of influences remaining in a minority of metal bands and the last remaining bastion of creativity within the genre lying with the despised genre of nu-jazz, and its not difficult to see why. Taking strong influences from electronica, it would seem to be seen many as though the result would be a bastardisation of the values the genre held, the requirement of musicianship and its improvisational nature in particular, but this simply isn’t the case.

In fact, in some senses it can be considered a revivification of the genre, taking it back to its roots before it became entangled with a set sound, with the necessity for musical ability and meandering over the actual musical composition, and with such an unlikely combination of influences it gives a creative freedom for experimentation, which these two Swedes take full advantage of. Whilst much of their sound is beautiful in its simplicity, fragile vocals over a smooth piano backing more reminiscent of early ‘Portishead’ than anything else, comprising a good half the release, it is the other side that shows their tendency to prove themselves further, from the intensely chaotic and dissonant ‘Survival Techniques Part II’ or the unusual tone to ‘Heartbeat.’

Sadly, it doesn’t always work; some of the slower trip-hop influenced tracks fail to hit the mark and the more complex and dissonant tracks descend too far into chaos, losing what drew my attention to begin with; the elegance. The smooth sounds of the mellotron, gentle synths or carefully constructed piano lines providing more than a simple backing for the versatile vocalist, caressing the lyrics as they dance from her mouth; this is where their strength lies. Even if there are points that don’t work, there is still a genuine freedom to their music, a sense that there is no length they are not willing to go to provided it’s at their own slow pace. Jazz hasn’t died, it’s simply evolved.

Highlights: Truth, Heartbeat, Try

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