CD REVIEW: Amok Amor (Eldh/Lillinger/Slavin/Evans) – Amok Amor

Amok Amor – Amok Amor
(Boomslang Records. CD review by Mike Collins)

Amok Amor’s personnel may span continents, but this set of eight originals share a compelling urgency that signals a meeting of intensely focussed musical minds. Peter Eldh is a now familiar figure on the UK scene from his work with Django Bates, Marius Neset and most recently the collaboration with Kit Downes and James Maddren as trio The Enemy. The line-up on this release expands another trio, Swedish Eldh and German-based duo of drummer Christian Lillinger and saxophonist Wanja Slavin, to a quartet with the addition of New York-based trumpeter Peter Evans.

The partnership of Eldh and Lillinger is a pulsating hubbub of sometimes spiky riffs and fractured rhythms, at others a surging momentum, switching at the blink of eye so that there’s a sense of the music rushing headlong, drawing breath then rushing off in another direction. The feel changes throughout from lop-sided clattery funk, to demented distorted swing, embraces a more even, time-shifting metre with a distant hint of hip-hop beats or dissolves into exploratory out of time sections. It’s a dynamic, interactive setting for the front line of sax and trumpet. Manipulieren II starts with Slavin and Evans locked in step as angular, interval leaping, spiralling lines are swept along by the collective energy. Amor offers a brief gale force blast of a free-boppish motif followed by Slavin and Evans hurling ideas back and forth before the more extended Sons of Engels-Marx progresses from another rattling, spiky theme to a collective improvisation full of howls and squeals from the sax and trumpet. Als Sozialist Geboren has a theme that could almost be a spritely folk tune before a twisting, duelling exchange between the two horns darkens the mood. The set comes to a frenetic close with the appropriately titled Amok.

This debut album confirms an exciting new prospect. The nonchalance and ease with which some fairly extended, closely scripted sections are negotiated creates a sense of freedom and spontaneity. The quartet are individually dazzling, but it’s the chemistry and invention of the collective that makes this band fizz.

Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter @jazzyblogman

Amok Amor play the Vortex on Monday 16th November in the EFG London Jazz Festival and Peter Eldh appears with The Enemy at Con Cellar Bar on Friday 20th

Categories: miscellaneous

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