Reviews RCD2079

When these long pieces get going, the tabla machine crank up to lightning speeds and fingers flying on the banjo strings, they hurtle along with an irresistible momentum, the two sounds melding so perfectly that you wonder why you´d never noticed the fit before. The second CD of this double-disc captures a thrilling, hour-long performance at Kongsberg Jazz Festival two years ago, with the trio joined by guitarist Nels Cline and percussionist Glenn Kotche - old-guard improvisers and the "experimental" component of alt-country outfit Wilco. With never a dull moment in the whole set, it´s firm proof that this genuinely innovative and exciting East-West encounter is much more than a cerebral studio project.
Jazzwise (UK)

This double disc set finds Huntsville in both studio and live settings. The considered abstractions of the studio disc are a serene delight, but the 55-minute live improv of disc two is something else. Featuring Wilco´s Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche on extra guitars and percussion, it builds like a runaway train of thoughts and possibilities before breaking through barriers into a world of new and rapturous potential.
Plan B (UK)

"Eco" accelerates and decelerates with wild abandon, shifting down rather darkly for Sidsel Endresen´s vocals, while "Arrow and Rain" also changes gear compellingly, if less dramatically. On both tracks Zach is on tablas, and a sruti box provides a drone. There´s rarely been such a effective use of the South Asian drums in crossover context since John McLaughlin´s "Shakti" - though "crossover" is too limiting a description for this substantial and challenging release.
The Wire (UK)

Employing everything from steel guitar and banjo to double bass and tabla machine on the first (studio) half of this two-disc set, they alternate between brief Americana-esque instrumentals and lenghtier excursions into fast, fluid motion, attaining trance-velocity like some rare amalgam of Miles Davies, Steve Reich and early Tortoise. Recorded live at the 2007 Kongsberg Jazz Festival, the second disc finds Huntsville joined by Wilco teamsters Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche for an immense fifty minute exercise in style-shifting molten movement, where beat-driven dynamism eventually gives way to quiet floatation and everyone heads home smiling.
Rock-a-Rolla (UK)

This is beautifully unpretentious and feels so naturally right – others have talked of hypnotic country yoga, abstract drone Americana, and yes to some extent that could be right - really not that easy to pin down though, nothing that obvious – drone music, folk music, some of those bright rhythms are surely born of Africa – that thing that’s bafflingly called World Music? African banjo music? This is from nowhere, this is from everywhere... this is wonderful, this is different - and we're still on disc one....Disc two is totally different, well no, not totally, a live recording featuring Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche from Wilco, alongside the Norwegian three piece. One whole fifth-four minute ork – this really does sound like the abstract drone Americana that others were talking of, it really isn’t anywhere near as compelling as the delights of the first disc though, back to that first one again I think, we’ll save disc two and explore it later, the first disc is calling right now, must play it again... all kinds of fresh things on that first disc, been going back and dipping in to if for days on end now...
Organ (UK)

Norway´s Huntsville might be best described as an improv trio, but they also use composition and are some way removed from what is usually thought of as Scandi-jazzers. Their second LP is a double, the first disc dipping into drone, the motorik grooves of Can, ambient Americana and  the divinely plangent, wyrd folk; the second a live recording of a 2007 show played with Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche of Wilco. Wonderful, both.
Time Out (UK)

This textured set finds Ivar Grydeland, Tonny Kluften and Ingar Zach deploying their improvisatory skills in the service of structured material that fuses Western twang with Eastern drone while working up some heady avant grooves. Disc one comprises five studio pieces, the highlight being Eco´s epic mesh of tabla beats, folk fingerpicking and a brief vocal by Sidsel Endresen. The second disc is a 54-minute live performance from the 2007 Kongsberg Jazz Festival, where Huntsville were joined by Wilco pair Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche on an hypnotic trip through percussive ragas, electro-acoustic scree and Morricone-like dreamscapes.
Mojo (UK)

Elegant improvised ambience, live and in the studio. Norwegian free improv types Ivar Grydeland, Tonny Kluften and Ingar Zach use Huntsville to vent their interest in electronics and repetetive structures. Like so much of this Scandi hybrid music there´s a pastoral edge, emphasised with Appalachian textures such as banjo and lap steel.
Uncut (UK)

This is a challenging kind of improvisation that at least goes somewhere. I was reminded of the Necks, though Huntsville draw on a very different palate of sounds to achieve what they do. Intriguing.
Narc (UK)

Eine böse Überraschung erlebt auf diesem Doppelalbum nur, wer das norwegische Trio nach dessen Debüt – viel zu voreilig, wie sich herausstellen sollte – auf hundert Prozent Impro festgenagelt hatte und sich plötzlich mit komponierten Strukturen und einer Fülle an Grooves konfrontiert sieht.......Allein dieser Umstand belegt die horizontale Weite und Offenheit von Grydeland, Kluften & Zach und ihres fiktiven Städtchens Huntsville. Hier lässt man sich fast verschwenderisch viel Zeit zur Entwicklung eines magnetischen Ganzen, nützt die Techniken der Dramaturgie. Eine schöne Überraschung.
Freistil (DE)

Der hypnotische Sog, den schon das HUNTSVILLE-Debut For the Middle Class (2006) ausübte, stellt sich auch bei Eco, Arches & Eras unmittelbar wieder ein. Kein Wunder, den Ivar Grydeland, Tonny Kluften & Ingar Zach kurbeln wieder an den gleichen Wellen, die sich mit psychedelischer Unwiderstehlichkeit in die Synapsen bohren. Das gebetsmühlenartig pulsierende Knattern oder Federn von Zachs Drumming und das Tocken seiner Shrutibox, Grydelands Gitarrenriffing, Kluftens gestrichener Basso continuo, der immer wieder zwischen den Zähnen ein ”Ich diene nicht” ausstösst, gehen dabei wieder abseits von Indienfahrerklischees ans Werk und öffnen dennoch die Schädeldecke mit unermüdlichem Brainstorming. Pluspunkte sind allein schon das tolle Coverdesign von Kim Hiorthøy, aber zudem auch noch der melancholische Sprechgesang von Sidsel Endresen als Auftakt des Monstertracks ’Eco’....
Bad Alchemy (DE)

Das norwegische Trio Huntsville unternimmt luftig rhythmische Reisen mit Tabla und Slideguitar, entwirft ruhige Soundscapes oder kreiert Ambient-Folk. Auf der zweiten CD des Doppelpacks spielen sogar zwei Wilco-Musiker mit. Damit passen die als Jazztrio getarnten Musiker in kaum eine Schublade.
Choices (DE)

De to lange sporene på første-CD´en makter begge å anta drivmønstre om eksponerer brytningen mellom mekanikk og antistatisk tematikk, en modus som også har kjennetegnet musikken til bl.a. The Necks, Biota og Gastr del Sol uten å bli videre utforsket. Vel, med Huntsville skjer dette til fulle! Andre-CDen inneholder kun ett stykke ("Eras"), innspilt på Kongsberg med gjestetilslutning fra Wilco-medlemmene Glenn Kotche (perkusjon) og Nels Cline (gitar) - begge forøvrig musikere i verdensklasse. Her er abstraksjonsnivået i starten høyt, med kantede klangvegger steilende over den subtile melodiske basen som i realiteten alltid underbygger musikken. Konstruksjonen gjennomgår mangfoldige faser og segmenter, men den ugjendrivelige pågangen av skiftende lydfarger og rytmemotiver består. Dette er moderne improvisasjonskunst på sitt ypperste, og en forbilledlig introduksjon til hva det hele handler om!
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