By Cody Mello-Klein
With their most recent release, the Nordic jazz-fusion, organ/guitar led trio InterStatic create something special and unique, a tough thing to do considering the history of derivative, standard-laden jazz trios that looms over them. However, with their unique ambient, less-is-more approach to jazz, InterStatic manages to avoid those trappings of modern jazz and create a truly weird and adventurous sonic experimentation.
For that is what this album truly is: an experiment. Each track on this album reeks of an adventurous spirit, a knack for the musically bizarre, and an unbridled enthusiasm for free-flowing jazz experimentation. Oftentimes tracks, namely “Flatland 1,” “Flatland 2,” and “Americana,” aren’t even songs at all but rather textural and sonic experiments and expressions. It is this eagerness to explore the unknown traverses of the jazz soundscape that marks this record as something special.
Luckily that eagerness is not lost on this record, a feat that is remarkable considering the many directions it shoots off in. Every track is bursting with the energy and enthusiasm that these three musicians have for this music, as the bombastic yet controlled drumming of Jarle Vespestad, the textured ambiance of Roy Powell’s organs, and the melodic yet insanely intricate and virtuosic guitar-work off Jacob Young meld together seamlessly. Never is there an egoistic attempt to show off, instead each musician expertly steps up does their thing and then melds back in with the rest of the band. This creates a real sense of camaraderie amongst these three super talented musicians and also allows for a dialogue to occur, most notably between Powell’s organ and Young’s guitar. On tracks like “First Vision” and “InterStatic,” the keyboard and guitar weave in and around one another, creating a unique effect that is refreshing to hear in a jazz-rock group.
The only gripe that could be made with this album is one that will undoubtedly be noticed by those who merely skim the surface of these tracks, for upon first listen many of these tracks appear to sound similar in nature. In fact, it was only when I began to listen to these tracks for a second (or third) time that I realized each and every one had some special texture or sound to offer. Whether it was the acoustic guitar on “Water Music,” the funky edge to “The Elverum Incident,” or the bizarre sounding guitar on “Washed Up,” each track had some special, oftentimes subtle, feature that kept the whole album sounding fresh all the way through.
InterStatic has achieved a remarkable thing with this album, melding jazz, jazz-rock, techno, and a multitude of other genres into one album that is not afraid to fly off the handle. While many other modern jazz groups shrink away from experimentation and exploration, InterStatic embraces the weird, the ambient, and the bizarre, something I wish more groups nowadays would do.