Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Atomic: Challenging The Nature Of Things

Atomic (band; formed 1999)
Fredrik Ljungkvst (saxophones, clarinet)
Magnus Broo (trumpet)
Paal Nilssen-Love (drums)
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass)
Håvard Wiik (piano)

Swedish-Norweigan band Atomic has established itself as one leading bands in Europe. While on first listen you might think this is a free-wheeling avant garde group; you quickly notice that there is a more than just Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane influences going on here. They use these influences as a platform for even more creative explorations. The band is truly a set of equals. All the band members have a say in the writing process which makes each of their albums a solid experience from beginning to end. With 5 albums under their belt, not to mention the individual albums and studio sessions each member contributes too, Atomic are becoming one of the preeminent bands in Europe. The bands improvisational style is similar to that of The Vandermark Five. But where V5 uses sheer force to make its point, Atomic reacts with subtle yet crafty stories making their case in more cerebral form. It's an intriguing mixture of low key personalities and wide arrangement of ideas that come together beautifully.

I really don't have a favourite album. It's been really hard to choose. The last two albums (Retrograde and The Bikini Tapes (both on Jazzland Records)) are three CD sets and not for the uninitiated. If I was pressed I would say go for their debut, Feet Music (Jazzland) which will build the foundation for you. This is free jazz but with a modal structure and direction that you will find ultimately enjoyable.

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