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The Zoo is Far by Christian Wallumrød Ensemble

Pianist Christian Wallumrød’s fourth outing for this record label reaffirms his penchant for breaking down genres and reformulating them into a distinct voice. Here, the pianist expounds upon those musical ideologies with a hybrid, chamber-jazz ensemble. Nonetheless, he serves as the pacesetter by guiding his strings-trumpet-drums unit into multi-tiered pastiches of sound and scope. As they delve into military march progressions and spiritualized themes that seem to tread on the footsteps of an elevated state of being.

They occasionally overlap the contemporary classical style element with an avant-garde tinge, while tempering the sequence of intertwining events with stately themes, morphed by somber strings passages. And while Wallumrød’s compositions are often pointed and detailed, he maintains a capacious scenario, built upon subtle melodies that instill a sense of endearment. On "Arch Dance," the pianist’s minimalist voicings are nicely contrasted with violinist Gjernund Larsen’s curvy staccato as a trance-like mosaic becomes prevalent.

It’s a harmonious endeavor as Swiss baroque harpist Giovanna Pessi’s dainty lines often provide a phantasmagorical edge to various movements. But on the piece titled "Psalm Kvaen, Trio," drummer Per Oddvar Johansen takes free-flight via a polyrhythmic attack that presents a semblance of disorder. Yet, it’s all rather uncannily counterbalanced by the leader’s performance on the harmonium. Then on "Arch Dance With Trumpet," the unit delves into a tinker bell motif featuring trumpeter Arve Henriksen’s dark choruses.

Wallumrød’s newly issued endeavor translates into a meticulously crafted sequence of relational vistas that touch the soul and might lower the listeners’ hear-rate. It’s a largely, melodic amalgamation of pictographic music that bears the mark of a budding stylist.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Christian Wallumrød Ensemble
  • CD Title: The Zoo is Far
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: ECM Records
  • Musicians: Christian Wallumrød (piano, harmonium, toy piano), Arve Henrkisen (trumpet), Gjermund Larsen (violin, Hardanger fiddle, viola), Tanja Orning(violoncello), Giovanna Pessi (Baroque harp), Per Oddvar Johansen (drums, percussion, glockenspiel)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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