North of North – The Moment In and Of Itself

Posted: 15 August 2016 in Albums
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Immedata – IMM006 – 4th July 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Instruments that sound like instruments!’ boasts the sticker on the cellophane in which North of North is shrinkwrapped. It’s a good selling point, and I’m not being sarcastic. It’s not a matter of selling tradition, but what could reasonably be described as the album’s manifesto: ‘this is no random grimprov get together or free jazz blowout, this is a serious engagement with compositional parameters combined with instrumental virtuosity from a working band’, announced the press release. It’s a bold statement which is likely to rankle with a fair few in avant-jazz circles, but fuck ‘em. Isn’t that what avant-gardism is all about?

As it happens, there’s a lot of fucking going on with this release. The interior of the lurid pink gatefold cover contains the following uncredited quotation, impressed in silver text:

It doesn’t come from fucking somewhere else,

It comes from your fucking brain.

Your brain tells you what to do, and you fucking do it.

If your brains are fucked, then the music will be fucked.

And the music is a little fucked, but in a good way. In the way that this album is all about what the title states: ‘The Moment In and Of Itself’. It’s immediate. It’s real. The moment is the only thing that matters. The moment is history in the making. It’ a moment in time, captured, distilling the coming together of three musicians to create something – to create music. Nothing more, nothing less.

Featuring the talents of Anthony Pateras (piano), Scott Tinkler (trumpet) and Erkki Veltheim (violin), the album’s five tracks represent spirited, free-flowing improvisation – a subject they discuss at length in the three-way conversation (it’s not strictly an interview) in the 16-page booklet which accompanies the album. It’s all in the moment. It’s not pre-planned improvisation, guided, ordered, conducted. Naturally, just because the instruments sound like instruments doesn’t mean that this is a perfectly accessible work. At times in perfect accord and at others creating tempestuous discord, there are jazz elements in the compositions, such as they are. And of course, the range of sounds three instruments can name, individually and in combination, while still sounding like instruments, is immense, and at times brain-bending.

There’s certainly a strong element of playfulness which runs throughout the project as a whole. What lies North of North? It’s like the question posted in Spinal Tap when discussing the cover to their Black Album. And just as there’s none more black so there is none more North than North, unless you’re going to leave the planet completely. Which could well be the aim of these fellows, as they explore what it means to participate in ‘real-time composition’. I’m also reminded of the Bukowski book, South Of No North. Which is presumably nowhere or also off the planet. Whatever: location is a state of mind.

Leaping between brooding drama and fleeting, skittering leaps and transitioning from moody to frantically busy, with scratches and scribbly scrapes, fast fingerwork and mindboggling intuition are what make this album happen. And in the moment, they eke out extended crescendos and embark on wild detours and impromptu romps in myriad directions. It’s challenging, at times manic and eye-popping. But this is the real deal. It happened. And this album is a document of a moment, as it happened.

North of North

  1. […] and intuitive, the other altogether more low-key, sparse and subdued in tone. As such, whereas the North of North album The Moment In and Of Itself was a bold, riotous affair, Pateras shows another side of his artistry on The Long Exhale, a […]

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