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When Tonality Is the Excursion

A live set by Eivind Aarset and his band

Norwegian musician Eivind Aarset opens this piece for his quartet (featuring bassist Auden Erlien and two credited drummers, Wetle Holte and Erland Dahlen, though one of them, Holte, only spends some of the time drumming) with syrupy held notes, Aarset’s electric guitar’s tone extended beyond the instrument’s inherent, unmediated possibilities. Delays that slowly fade keep notes in play, clock-like pings becoming whisps, strums becoming halos. There seems to be a precognition of this early on: right at the start, it’s as if another performance is layered under this one, if you listen closely — perhaps bleed from a nearby room, perhaps an intended substrate, perhaps a bit of something caught in the digital buffer of one of those tools arrayed in front of Aarset. A drummer’s soft-ended sticks provide muted thumps amid brush strokes. The bassist plots the contours. Though credited in the video with drums, Holte is clearly up to something else, playing what appears to be a lap steel or pedal steel guitar. It’s a stately performance: jazz more concerned with tonality than with melodic excursion; pop more interested in sonic potential of phrases than in the rigor of repeated verse and chorus. Which is to say, it is Eivind Aarset through and through.

Video originally posted at youtube.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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