Reviews 2074

An awful lot happens on “Brolt” (Rune Grammofon), the gloriously twitchy third album from this free-improvising Scandinavianpower trio. Drones succumb to distortion; feedback splinters into static. A shapeless rustle hardens into a thrashing roil, and then just as easily subsides. On some level this is business as usual for Scorch Trio, which consists of Raoul Bjorkenheim, a Finnish-American guitarist and violist, along with the bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and the drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, pillars of the Norwegian experimental music scene. But that’s not to say “Brolt” feels tossed off, or in any way complacent. It’s a deep-focus record that conveys discipline as well as daring.
New York Times (US)

Scorch Trio creates its music on the fly; however, its stream-of-conscious flow is rigorously disciplined, overseen by an acute sense of intuition. This is a power trio that embraces the tough spontaneity of the quartet Last Exit, with Sonny Sharrock, and pushes down on the pedal much harder. The density and fury of the music ebbs-and-flows, a heartbeat racing through a horror flick. Björkenheim unleashes abrasive chords that give way to acidic feedback, splintered single-string volleys that explode into ominously hovering drones. The rhythm section responds to each machination with an almost telepathic understanding, ratcheting up the intensity or spreading the sound into eerie ambient gullies, a calm before the next storm. Through every rise-and-fall Scorch Trio hits on new ways to ride the waves. Sometimes Björkenheim teases out fractured rock licks - Jimi Hendrix looms large - while at other moments he seems to be summoning the white noise of Merzbow, but every variation also functions as a trigger to transport the group into some new terrain. 4/5.
Downbeat (US)

This third album from the Scandinavian free-fusion power trio finds them revelling in much the same gross-out self-indulgence as before - but who cares when it´s this exhilirating? There´s even more of a leaning towards rock pyrotechnics, with Björkenheim´s guitar winding out fast, angular fret-runs with the odd bluesy lick thrown in and a satisfying old-school analogue feel. The hardest working rhythm section in the business is on top form again, too, with Nilssen-Love dependably molten and Håker Flaten making use of the electric bass to play with more subtlety, no longer fighting to have his acoustic bass heard over the cacophony. In terms of energy and invention, the whole thing suggests what Hendrix´s late jams might have sounded like if he´d been listening to Albert Ayler instead of Miles Davis.
Jazzwise (UK)

If Chris McGregor's jazz was made while the 60s free-form furnace was still hot, the Nordic guitar trio Scorch is an inheritor of that heat - lately travelling under labels such as death-jazz, punk-jazz or noise-jazz. The Norwegians sometimes sound like descendents of Hendrix or Cream, but with stream-of-consciousness drum and bass patterns. Their third album gives equal space to the eclectic guitarist and film-score writer Raoul Björkenheim (sometime accomplice of Jah Wobble and Bill Laswell) and the star pairing of bassist Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten and Paal Nilssen-Love. Björkenheim's yelping guitar entwines with a free-rockish ferocity early on; there's a more spacious feel to the jagged chords and raw percussion on the ghostly Basjen, and passages of cymbal-edge bowings or trombone-deep electronics. Graps has a fast, abstract-Cream feel, but the closing Bluering is a piece of percussion impressionism for the remarkable improv-meets-gamelan artist Nilssen-Love. 4/5.
The Guardian (UK)

A free spirited instrumental progressive jazz-blues-improv-rock trio from Norway and a third album from the respected outfit. Brolt opens with a rather fluid ear-grabbing ten minute pace-setter called Olstra. Classic 70’s flavoured high-wire progressive jazz that’s good enough to be compared with Hendrix when he and his band really got in the zone and left all the showman stuff behind. Yes, good enough to name drop people like Hendrix, Zappa, Coltrane, Mingus and all recorded live to analogue tape in a studio in one thrilling take. Set up and ready to go with vintage microphones and a three piece where bass, drums and guitar are all treated equally (and all played as equally well – top class musicianship that never has to prove anything or show off in any tiresome look-at-me kind of way). This is seriously good, never once does it become mere self-indulgence, they play on the edge and hold attention with rewarding ease all the way through. Raoul Bjorkenheim (guitar), Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (bass and electronica) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) are three musicians with a quite a reputation now and with playing like this then easy to see why - there’s an energy here, a flowing creative freedom and something rather special happening – some kind of vital musical chemistry and a highly recommended album.
Organ (UK)

This is jazz, baby. This is jazz as it sounds being run over by madmen in a runaway combine harvester, jazz being disembowelled, mutilated and left for the crows to pick at. This is jazz that wants to chainsaw your head off and vomit down your neck. Raoul Björkenheim on gee-tar along with The Thing rhythm section of Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and Paal Nilssen-Love take the basic, long-standing concept of the jazz trio and don´t so much resuscitate it as attach electrodes to its testicles and scream in its face. The three players sound located and centered in their own individual spaces, but together coalesce into a mighty, raging beast, splintering out of the raw materials and desperate to scream of its own existence.
Plan B (UK)

Ein Dutzend Mikros, Mischpult, Bandmaschine – mehr haben ”Scorch” nicht gebraucht, um ihre dritte Platte live einzuspielen. Die kunstfertige Brachialität und Kompromisslosigkeit, mit der sich das skandinavische Trio in ”Brolt” in improvisatorische Abentuer mit offenem Ende schleudert, ist derzeit konkurrenzlos und steht in bester Electric-Jazz-Tradition: Wie etwa Drummer Pål Nilssen-Love und Bassist Ingebrigt Flaten permanente Erdbeben als Fundament dieser zerstörerisch-intensiven Musik fabrizieren, erinnert oft an King Crimson mit der Rhythmussektion Wetton-Bruford. Der brillante Gitarrist Raoul Björkenheim ist weniger an Fripps, mehr an Zappas Stil des Improvisierens mit Adlerkralle und Skalpell geschult. Und wenn er in dem exotisch wabernden ”Gaba” seine marokkanische Gimbri-Laute verzerrt und mit dem Bogen zur ’Viola da Gimbri’ zerstreicht, fliegt – um es mit ”A Whiter Shade of Pale” zu sagen – glatt die Decke im Fandango-Licht weg.
Frankfurter Allgemeine (DE)

Die explosive Melange, ohne Modifikation auf einem analogen Multitrack-Rekorder aufgenommen, deckt fast jedes Genre ab, bedient sich munter bei Metal, Punk, Blues und lässt sogar den Ambient nicht aus, verfeinert und partiell abgerundet mit elektronischen Elementen... An manchen Stellen schwoft der gute Fred Frith vor meinem inneren Auge vorbei und winkt mir lächelnd zu. Die sechs Songs strotzen nur so vor Energie und Power. Nichts für zarte Metal-Gemüter oder konservative Einheitsbrei-Punks.

Scorch Trio sind Raoul Björkenheim(g, electric viola), Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (b, electronics) und Paal Nilssen-Love (dr/perc). Die beiden Letztgenannten könnte man von ihrer Kollaboration bei The Thing kennen, mit denen sie u. a. einige aktuelle Rocksongs in ein adäquat energetisches Free-Jazz Gewand kleideten. Weiterhin betreiben sie neben dem Scorch Trio zwischendurch wilden Jazz mit einem der derzeit hochgeschätztesten Jazzsaxophonisten Mats Gustafsson. Entsprechend temperamentvoll und hitzig fällt „Brolt“ natürlich aus. Es ist eine freie Avantrock-Fusion Session, die gerne mal völlig outta space abdreht („Basjen“), aber doch meistens eine musikalische Mitte (Bass oder Drums) beibehält. Wie bei auch bei Box immer wieder erstaunlich was eine Band in nur einer Session fabrizieren kann. „Brolt“ atmet dabei eine wunderbar raue Energie, die durch die Live-Aufnahmetechnik mit alten Mircros entstanden ist. Wer z. B. gut mit MoHa, Han Bennink & Terry Ex, The Thing oder Hall/Renaldo/Hooker kann, der findet hier ein frisches ungeschliffenes Avant-Jazz Album in ähnlicher Tradition.
Noisy Neighbours (DE)

Klar, dass die Platte zwischen dichter, explosiver Kollektiv- und atmosphärischer, in sich versunkener Individualimprovisation damit alles andere als leichte Kost ist. Hier werden Einflüsse von Hendrix und McLaughlin bis Coltrane und Davis mit Krautrockanleihen auf das Freudigste verquickt (man muss schon von Freakout sprechen) und dabei wahrscheinlich der letzte Tropfen aus der Zitrone gepresst. Nicht jedermanns Sache, aber sehr spannend (bis schmerzhaft).
Drums & Percussion (DE)

Brutalt men uten att någonsin tappa skänslan för detaljering bryter Scorch Trio väg med egensinnig og rytmisk rörlig musik. Rötterna finns både i elektriska Miles, Jimi Hendrix och Peter Brötzmann, kanske också i shakuhachiflöjtens Japan. Musiken har stor dynamik och fantasi, är alltid på väg någonstans, skön som rakubränd keramik.
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