Nils Petter Molvaer Group - Live at Moods: Mi, 12.10.05 -- Review

Saw the concert together with Anna and Mika Kastenholz. We were all drunk and pissed off at the so what?-quality of the show. An excellent opportunity to smack a slacking accomplished artist, he agreed to write a review:

Even if you dont like their music and legacy, there is something to respect about The Beatles: Once they realized that anything they did was met with constant devotion and reverence from the fans, they stopped. they stopped performing, they stopped recording, they stopped being The Beatles. They stopped, because everything had become predictable.

Nils Petter Molvaer is not The Beatles and he should not stop making music. But, he might want to think about how to surprise the listener musically in the future. Because right now he is precisely what no serious artist would want to be: predictable.

Norwegian music has always carried a distinct flavor and a recognizable aesthetic concept. This is even true for paininflictors like A-HA, who for a short period in the 80's ruled the world of popular music and explored new artistic terrain also in the making of music video. Today, the list of jazz-pop-electro-ambient-soul-new age-folk interbreeds from Norway such as Bugge Wesseltoft, Ketil Bjoernsted, Eivind Aarset, Torun Eriksen, Rebecca Bakken, Silje Nergard, Sidsel Endresen, Beady Belle, Mari Boine appears to be growing geometrically every year. In other words, contrary to the climatic settings, Norwegian music is still pretty hot.

The jazz mainstream noticed Norway with the advent of Jan Garbarek and his distinct saxophone sound in the early 70's, which became a corner stone for the ECM label of producer Manfred Eicher and his aesthetic concept of sparse musical settings, which often explore the boundary between warm and cold. Garbarek, a constant traveler between the worlds of fully improvised, folk tunes as well as more accessible jazz styles, may still be regarded as the godfather of Nor-Jazz; whatever that means really.

Nils Petter Molvaer's music and trumpet play is not new nor technically spectacular, but, at its best, a highly spiritual voyage through sound. It conjures musical images of Miles Davis' often terse solo lines, the foggy synthesizer landscapes of ambient pioneer Brian Eno, all combined with an undercurrent of trip hop, techno and drum 'n bass. Unfortunately, Molvaer and his co-musicians never arrived nor took off to any sound voyage in their last concert at Moods in Zurich. Quite frankly, it simply did not seem to work. While it is difficult to convince the elderly Moods audience to start dancing, most of them belonging rather to the listener than groover type, there was unfortunately also not much to listen to, either. Was the music improvised? To some extend, yes. Did it sound like the records? Yes, but if you want that, you can go and see U2 (admittedly, a ticket to Molvaer is cheaper and you are not forced to sing along to 'Heal the world' with Bono).

The fact that Molvaer has achieved somewhat of a cult-following over the past years, explains why his performance was partly met with enthusiastic response from the audience. But did the musical performance really deserve it? Did it offer something new, something not available on the studio recordings? Were the light and sound effects spectacular? Did the musicians really draw the audience into the music and their performance? The author begs to differ.

Thus, the remains of the evening are images of a sympathetic trumpet player, randomly toggling between all too similar trumpet synthesizer sounds with his Birkenstock sandals and a feeling that there should have been 'more than this'.

Nils Petter, please re-invent yourself. Soon.

Yours truly,
Herr K.


Connessioni Leggendarie, mostra storica di net art a Milano - 2005-10-19


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