Eivind Aarset

Critical Jazz

If you are the copyright holder of this article, and want it removed from this site, please contact me.

The infamous Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset has set off on a musical road less traveled. Finding one's artistic voice is not always an easy task, finding a voice that highlights a prolific gift while establishing something as close to a new sound is even more difficult. Aarset has a musical pedigree with ECM alone that would be the envy of many of his contemporaries having played with Marilyn Mazur, Andy Sheppard and Arild Anderson.

Aarset's first release as a leader with ECM is an aptly titled work given the slow, methodical, almost ambient quality of textured layers of sound. Layers of sonic brilliance and the cutting edge use of modern technology find Aarset setting a new course for modern jazz guitar unlike those that have come before him. Aarset's sound comes in waves of ambient hues and a perfect storm of technical proficiency with the artistic gift of the electronic ambiance needed to push the recording to the front of the pack of voices for the new millennium. Where electronics begin or end, the transition to that of guitar effects takes over with a deceptively subtle quality merging lines of melody, counterpoint and ambient effect. Liquid rhythms construct ambient layers of sound with a masterful use of samples and programming that serve not as a production crutch but as a post modern statement of how best to push the music forward. Hypnotic waves of sound that pulsate through the cerebral core of the soul and translated in an open ended harmonic variance of shades of gray. With Aarset, programming and guitar lines become as one forming a melodic synergy seldom heard since the days of the classic art-rock idiom.

A plethora of influences including the brooding "The Beauty of Decay" suggest a cause and effect relationship with Indian vocal music. "Close (For Comfort)" maintains a mysterious zen like quality of less is more, a grand spatial texture painted from an especially dark color pallet. The subtle nuances engulf the listener with an evocative ambient setting that is a virtually mirror image of the cover art. "Black Silence" continues the uniformity of ambient texture without the ambiguity that leads similar artists off the harmonic path of purpose and direction. The transitional hybrid created where musicians and effects meet would be nothing short of amazing under normal circumstances, here the ordinary ambient effect turns extraordinary in the hands of a duo that posses the unique ability to manipulate sound and silence in such a way as to turn the post modern approach is music that stands and easily sidesteps genre of any description.