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ELVIND AARSET AND JAN BANG – LAST TWO INCHES OF SKY (2023) (Jazzland)


This Norwegian duo has carved a niche in the jazz electronica field; Bang works more on the electronics side with field recordings, found sounds and samples while Aarset adds guitar as a textural device, so don’t expect any solos or sustained melodies. ‘Fire Dancer’, an atmosphere minimalistic construct, sets the scene. ‘Legion’ is a catchy piece with a thick reggae base backbeat and a nice vocal by Nona Hendryx (recording in New York). ‘City Never Sleeps’ is more sonic experimentation with sparse guitar notes, tongue-in-cheek perhaps as it is distinctly and terrifically soporific, segueing into ‘Seraphine’, a wake-up call with a hip shaking neo-groove. I was drawn towards the vocal tracks, Tim Eisenberg (who also co-produced the album) of SWEET BILLY PILGRIM contributing to the title track from his Aylesbury home. Perhaps more of these and more ‘grooves’ would have elevated the album. I found it odd to read a review in ‘Jazzwise’ magazine, but then again, I always advocate a genre-defying esotericism in music: why do I say this then? - for there’s very little jazz in this recording except for a little piano and brass, reflecting more the duo’s collaborations with SLY AND ROBBIE perhaps. Still “Last Two Inches of Sky” is well worth investigating on its own terms.

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