CD review

Verneri Pohjola – “The Dead Don’t Dream”

Verneri Pohjola – The Dead Don’t Dream
(Edition Records. EDN1153. Download Review by Patrick Hadfield)

With a title like The Dead Don’t Dream one might expect a slice of late night noir. But Verneri Pohjola gives much more than that. There are touches of moodiness, but also space and an enticing lightness of touch. With his quartet of Tuomo Prättälä on piano, Mika Kallio, drums, and Antti Lötjönen, bass – joined by saxophones from Pauli Lyytinen on two tracks – Pohjola has brought together strands from his previous albums, particularly the abstraction of Animal Image and the melodic impetus of Bullhorn.

The seven tunes have a very measured pace; Pohjola eschews speed and histrionics for lyricism, mood and dynamics. The quartet leaves a lot of space for the music to grow, with a sense of freedom. As well as piano, Prättälä provides some electronics which add to the music’s textures.

Kallio and Lötjönen have a light touch, propelling the music forward without forcing it: the rhythm flows quickly beneath the melodic lines. Kallio, Lötjönen and Prättälä together give Pohjola the freedom to explore the melodies.

The album contains a variety of moods. Voices Heard has passages of strident, angry, almost discordant piano before it relaxes into something more contemplative; Wilder Brother, featuring Lyytinen on soprano, is altogether more optimistic – it almost bounces along.

The title track encapsulates the album. Pohjola’s breathy trumpet moves from mournful to invigorating as he builds the theme over a sparse backing. Prättälä has a light touch as his similarly emphatic solo draws us in. The whole is suitably dreamy, an enchanting reverie in which to lose oneself.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

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