Food (Iain Ballamy & Thomas Stronen): Mercurial Balm

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Modern Jazz / Indie Jazz
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For its second album on ECM, the Food duo of Norwegian drummer Thomas Stronen and British saxophonist Iain Ballamy continues to invite guests to bring something to the table. Their guests for Mercurial Balm are guitarist Christian Fennesz and trumpeter Nils Petter Molvar - both previously around the table for Quiet Inlet - plus, on three different tracks, Indian slide guitarist and singer Prakash Sontakke and Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset. The party produced, in Iain Ballamy's words, "a strange mix of musicians and musical genres", but it's a compelling mixture.

The form-and-texture conscious improvisations here are drawn from live performances in Victoria National Jazz scene in Norway and the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, and sessions at Oslo's Rainbow Studios. To the latter group belong 'Chanterelle', the title track of 'Mercurial Balm', and 'Magnetoshere' on which the slide guitar and vocals of Prakash Sontakke are partnered by Eivind Aarset's atmospheric guitar and electronics. The first half of the album finds Food augmented by Austrian guitarist Christian Fennesz, taking further the experiments with layers of sound begun on Quiet Inlet. Nils Petter Molvar joins Stronen, Ballamy and Fennesz for the slice of 'Moonpie'. The whole album was mixed at Rainbow Studios by Jan Erik Kongshaug and Manfred Eicher.

Food's priorities, the emphases upon melodic playing, textural development and the creating and exploration of sound-environments, shape the contexts for these improvisations. The acoustic aspects of Food's music, with drums, percussion and lyrical saxophone, are again enhanced by the use of electronics as a structural element. The scope of expression runs "from minimalist to very turbulent". They like to surprise - themselves as much as the listener.

Thomas Stronen (drums, percussion, electronics)
Iain Ballamy (saxophones, electronics)
Christian Fennesz (guitar, electronics)
Eivind Aarset (guitar, electronics)
Prakash Sontakke (slide-guitar, vocal)
Nils Petter Molvar (trumpet - 6)

1. Nebular [05:54]
2. Celestial Food [04:24]
3. Ascendant [06:00]
4. Phase [03:47]
5. Astral [09:07]
6. Moonpie [04:33]
7. Chanterelle [03:46]
8. Mercurial Balm [05:01]
9. Magnetosphere [06:17]
10. Galactic Roll [04:42]

nagrano: Recorded 2010 and 2011
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Food (Iain Ballamy & Thomas Stronen)
Mercurial Balm
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