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This end-of-the-millennium quartet session probably best defines all the inherent contradictions in who ECM attracts to the label — what kind of musician records for them — and what concerns these artists and ECM's chief producer (and creator) Manfred Eicher hold in common. This set, although clearly fronted by Markus Stockhausen and Arild Andersen on brass and bass, respectively, allows space for the entire quartet to inform its direction. Héral and Rypdal are not musicians who can play with just anybody; their distinctive styles and strengths often go against the grain of contemporary European jazz and improvised music. Of the 11 compositions here, four are collectively written, with two each by Andersen and Stockhausen. "Flower of the Now" uses space and texture to create a harmonic architecture, skeletal though it may be. Stockhausen states a theme that acts as the syntax for the painterly drumming of Héral and Rypdal's interlocution between all the drifting parties. "Sway" begins with Héral's trans-African drumming, followed by the fury of Rypdal's own brand of guitar improvisation. He edges through musical frameworks of the past in rock, blues, and jazz, cutting them down in the process of playing knotty arpeggios and deconstructed riffs that rely on harmonic rather than lyrical language. When Stockhausen moves into the fray, it's sparingly in stark contrast to Rypdal's splatter and roll methodology and brings things to a near halt, with only Andersen to slip a groove through the band's abstractions. This is a record of "sonics," an area not unlike the forbidden "Zone" filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's hero, who guides people through in the film Stalker — forbidden, wasted, and beautifully desolate. When listeners reach the place in "Auma" where Andersen's bass employs electronic devices to give it an "orchestra" or chamber section quality, they can hear how attentive this crew really is to one another. They move about slowly and purposefully in the musical spheres where sound, language, and harmonic monoliths all give way into something less definite, less shapely or contoured in favor of the unspeakable, the unmentionable, the inarticulate speech of the heart as it enters, through sound's language: one of tension, dynamic, nuance, and texture, the various places where spoken language fails so miserably. In all, Karta is an effort that showcases the very best of its collective: It contains aesthetic grace and elegance as well as great violence and chaos. For all the recordings in "popular" music made at the end of the century, this is the one that sums up best where Western music has traveled these last hundred years, and points to just how far it yet needs to journey in the next thousand. Karta is soulful, tender, and frightening.
Born: 27 October 1945 in Lilleström, Norway
Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s
Top Albums and Songs by Arild Andersen
||Bing||Movements In Colour||6:00||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||May Song||Movements In Colour||6:48||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||We Shall Not Go to Market Today||Movements In Colour||8:06||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Cinderella Song||The Triangle||6:33||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||International Blue||Movements In Colour||5:41||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Ballarina||Movements In Colour||3:43||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Bålet||Aero||8:33||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||La Tristesse Du Roi||Movements In Colour||14:48||Album Only||View In iTunes|
||Aero||Aero||9:50||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Nave Nave Moe||Movements In Colour||12:15||Album Only||View In iTunes|