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Molecular Gastronomy

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Album Review

Over the ten years preceding this release, Food has gradually distilled itself down to two members: saxophonist and flutist Iain Ballamy and drummer/wielder of electronics Thomas Strønen. The music on their fifth album is mostly improvised, which can be a little hard to believe at times — there are moments during "Khymos," for example, when the saxophone's softly insinuating sounds bleed so organically into the unsettled and not really tonal lines spun out by Strønen that they sound premeditated. Not that everything here is abstract and dour, either: "Apparatus," despite its off-kilter glitchiness, boasts an entrancing groove and a charming (if subtle) melody; "Lota" takes breathy flute sounds and piles them together in feathery layers that are very attractive without being exactly tuneful, "Spherification" flirts with a swing feel while a guitar mutters grumpily in the background, and "Nature's Recipe" brings in a distinctly jungly breakbeat. "Red Algae" is one of the strangest and coolest tracks, a faintly foreboding composition featuring jazzy string bass and brushed drums and weirdly modal saxophone lines. Molecular Gastronomy is a perfect example of the kind of magic that can occur when improvised music is informed both by sensitive discipline and wide-ranging creativity. Highly recommended.


Formed: 1998 in Oslo, Norway

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Avant jazz and improvisational group Food were founded in 1998 as a collaborative effort between British saxophonist Iain Ballamy and Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen after a chance meeting. By the time they began recording, they had expanded to a quartet that also included trumpeter Arve Henricksen and bassist Mats Eilertsen. Their self-titled debut offering, as well as Organic & GM Food, appeared on the Feral label in 1999 and 2001, respectively. By the time they released Veggie in 2002 and Last...
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Molecular Gastronomy, Food
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