"extraordinary and unique" - by Nick Blake / Navyelectre

I got an email recently from Norwegian jazz drummer and composer Jonas H. Sjøvaag asking to review an album of his involving a 16-member ensemble known as Navyelectre. The cover for the album, Large Ensemble, features Jonas with smiling face and warm Norwegian sweater in a pale yellow room with old black-and-white photos hanging on the wall. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of all this, or what to expect from the album. Honestly I was expecting some light folk music. What I heard instead was something extraordinary and unique. The first track, “Better off dead” starts off like something from Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones. The lyrics reflected a fascination with Keroack, Bukowski, Burroughs and Nick Cave. The horns and other instruments pound out a dark ragtime with excellent arrangement by Jan Martin Smørdal. These sensibilities continue throughout the album. It’s simultaneously upbeat and dark and jarring and satisfying. The whole project was recorded over two days in a classy old house in Oslo’s suburbs by a group of extremely talented musicians, some of the top in the country. They practiced for just two days before the recording. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of this album. I keep coming back to Jonas’ smiling face and wonder about his satisfied grin. I wonder if he’s playing a joke on us: this unassuming, charming young guy is hiding a great wealth of complexity and musical skill behind his smile.

Available in high resolution: 24/44 FLAC €15.00

# Title Track length
1 3 min 58 sec
2 3 min 31 sec
3 3 min 56 sec
4 4 min 46 sec
5 3 min 54 sec
6 4 min 31 sec
7 5 min 6 sec
8 3 min 20 sec
9 3 min 5 sec
10 3 min 14 sec
11 4 min 17 sec
12 4 min 25 sec
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