Label: ECM Records, 2019
Personnel - Harmen Fraanje: piano; Mats Eilertsen: acoustic bass; Thomas Stronen: drums.
Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen had a triumphant ECM debut in 2016 with Rubicon, an album featuring seven talented musicians. And Then Comes The Night, his new outing on the cited label, he reunited a trio formed a decade ago with fellow countrymen pianist Harmen Fraanje and drummer Thomas Stronen. Their music had already been captured on record twice, in 2010 and 2013, with releases on the Norwegian label Hubro. Each member got compositionally involved in the project, with the bandleader contributing five tunes, two of them in association with Fraanje, who brings a couple more of his own. The remaining two are credited to the collective.
Eilertsen’s “22” was written in response to the terrorist massacre on the island of Utoya on July 22, 2011. It opens the recording session with elegiac tones, projecting serene classical-like melody against spacious yet rich bass/drums activity. A variation of this same composition closes out the album, bookending the remaining eight quietly acoustic pieces culled from the musicians’ lyrical depth. Fraanje’s “Albatross”, for instance, transpires a crystalline introspection, just as the trio’s “Perpetum”, which brings Eilertsen to the spotlight in the course of an elegant consonance between steadfast pizzicato and spiritual bowed bass. With introductory percussion creating suspended moments by means of silence and nuance, this ambiguous peregrination may be evocative of the vastness of the desert or the infiniteness of the universe.
By the same token, the crisply executed “The Void” invites the listeners to the mysticism of unconfined, unknown spaces. The trio rambles during the first minutes before finding a demarcated path where agreeable contours of melody connect to lush chordal fluxes. It is all sustained by the strong presence of the bass and a snare drum precipitating unflappable eruptions. This is an old Eilertsen composition that happens to be one of his strongest.
With one piece flowing into another with a calm reserve, the album feels like a suite. There’s temperance at every turn, and the title track, named after the novel of the same name by Icelandic Jon Kalman Stefansson, emulsifies repeated melodic figures into the static framework. This disposition is ultimately diverted through the installation of a primitive groove that stirs the pianist’s improvisatory creativity.
If you’re looking for depth of sound and some relaxing aural experiences, then this is an album you should get.
02 - Perpetum ► 05 - The Void ► 08 - Then Comes the Night