While drummer Terje Isungset and trumpet player Arve Henriksen (who both double on several other instruments here) have long musical histories apart and together, more apart, really; this is their first duo release in six years, after 2014’s World Of Glass, this time appearing as a purely digital release.
It’s an album that delves deep to find hidden corners and curious nooks and crannies, the way all good travellers should. The pair show that there is an art to their particular type of travel, crossing through chaos to find order and beauty in the music. It’s a mix that travels through time and space, on files exchanged online between their homes in Norway and Sweden during lockdown; field recordings, found sounds and older performances, like the softly breathing wish that is “Dream-Explore-Discover,” recorded live in 2008.
Of course, they’re used to working together, to trusting each other’s ability to pull magical things out of the air. That’s apparent on the opening track, as “A Voyage To The New World” sets the agenda for the album perfectly, a cacophony of banging from Isungset and random notes from Henriksen that gradually shift and move to become clear, airy melody.
The music can capture a traveller’s nightmares, like the atonal fears of “Lost Passport,” the kind of horror that’s gripped everyone at some point as they desperately pat pockets. But, when resolved, it settles into the gentle, cool flow of “Traveller’s Tales,” where Henriksen’s trumpet tells its story, letting the melodies hover rather then soar.
At times, such as with “Miles To Go-Days Away,” the music is faintly reminiscent of Terje Rypdal's bands from the late 70s, rippling with percussive music and driven by the twanging of the mouth harp. But it also harkens to the quietly muted notes that seem to typify Nordic jazz, where everything is underplayed and silence becomes as important as the notes from the instruments.
It’s a journey through cold climates. There’s no Mediterranean heat here, no sense of a burning sun and blue seas. Their journey is capped by “To Arrive At The Final Destination.” For all its filigreed beauty and charm, the track remains ambiguous and quite unsettling. Is it really the end? Is there more? The urge to keep going remains.
Maybe the journey never really ends. As listeners, maybe we should hope it doesn’t, because this duo does make an art of travel.
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Photo of Arve Henriksen by Julia Marie Naglestad
Photo of Terje Isungset by Knut Bry