Hüm – don’t take it so personally
(Losen Records. Album review by Rob Mallows)
Debut albums. A big deal for any band or musician. Get it right, and capture the imagination of your audience, and you’re on the path to something special. Get it wrong, and life gets a whole lot tougher thereafter.
don’t take it so personally is the debut album of a Norwegian trio new to me, the obliquely named Hüm (no, I’ve no idea; Google Translate went “Huh?”). I’m pleased to say that, based on these nine tracks, the band – Bojan Marjanoviç on piano, Bjørnar Kaidefoss Tvelte on bass and Magnus Sefaniessen on drums – has plenty to offer.
The album opens in a languid, almost disdainful way with Dream Beliefs, a slight track without any real rhythmic centre that serves more as an hors d’oeuvres to the rest of the album
Hüm lies, according to the album notes, “where the European jazz tradition meets contemporary music”, and that was exactly what I heard on Kringsjå blå, with its carefully constructed main theme and a bass all about booming low frequencies. Within a tightly composed superstructure, on this and other tracks there’s plenty of scope for all three musicians to go off into the badlands and see what they find. Tvelte’s soloing on this second track is particularly fulsome. When Marjanoviç gets going, he produces exciting, gravity defying runs up and down within and around the chords, but as a listener you never fell like you’re losing touch with what each track is all about.
Title track don’t take it so personally is charming, if a little unadventurous, but the bass soloing by Twelte – again – is top notch, but be warned: the mixing will provide a real workout for your speaker cones.
After hours has a trippy bass vibe conjuring up the wee small hours, over which Marjanoviç picks out choice, rich chords that home in on one’s limbic system as the tune rambles on nicely over Sefaniessen’s economical, but insistent stick work.
More of the same on Sedmaya until, mid-song, the trio throws a rhythmic hand-brake turn and the mood shifts brilliantly.
Arctic ice has the simplest of high-hat patterns under which Tvelte’s bowed bass and Marjanoviç’s piano play a simple, eery melody in unison. Stripped back, sparse, but full of punch.
As jazz vocabularies go, that used by Hüm on this album is potent and full of idiomatic surprises. The line between composition and exploration is brilliantly opaque, such that one can reasonably expect this band to be a lot of fun live. Like any piano trio, the inevitable EST comparison is always there in the background.
Hüm may also share three letters in their name, but they seem to have enough musical moxy to plough their own furrow and stand out in what is a burgeoning market for contemporary piano trios.
Categories: Album review