T.Norwegian saxophonist Mette Henriette seems to have become the quintessential ECM Records artist. Her second album, Manfred, has all the hallmarks of her Eicher label. Beautifully recorded, low-volume acoustic music is equidistant from jazz, folk, and contemporary compositions, and nothing is more vulgar than a drum kit that smears the delicate sonic signature of each instrument.
Henriette’s 2015 debut flirted with a mini orchestra on several tracks, but this long-awaited follow-up focuses on a small chamber trio that seems to fit her style. Swedish pianist Johann Lindvall and Australian cellist extraordinaire Judith Harman participate in over 15 short tracks.
The title track Drifting and its companion Indrifting You transpose a major third down every few bars, resembling a slower version of John Coltrane’s Giant Step played backwards. But sometimes he stays on one chord (or one note) throughout the song, bringing out unusual textures.
Both Oversoar and A-Choo converge as Henriette and Hamann play sleepy drones at unnatural intervals around a simple, static piano riff, eventually playing in unison, It sounds like a particularly thick analog synth voicing. In Oº and Solsnu, the two simply play a textural effect. Tenor sax wheezing and crackling reeds combine with a creaking cello to create the sound of arctic ice floes cracking under pressure. On Cadat, three instruments converge to sound like a Caribbean steelpan. On “Across the Floor,” Henriette flutters and growls to the gentle beat of a piano. The best of all might be I Villvind. Here, a tumbling piano note repeats itself, striking in the most gentle, her ECM-ish way Henriette can imagine.
Also released this month
Seb Rochford Best known as the drummer for dozens of jazz, soul and punk projects, ECM’s debut as leader, A Short Diary, features eight delicate hymns about his father’s death performed by a pianist. I compose meditations like kit downs and occasionally augmented by Rochford’s delicate percussion. Pacific Walker (Orphanology/Bluesanct) Michael Tapscott and Isaac Edwards A blissful mashup of clawhammer acoustic guitars, meditative drones and pastoral field recordings from the psychedelic ambient band Odawas. The Descending Spirals of Time (Orphanology/Bluesanct) is a wonderfully disorienting suite of four long tracks by New York artist Florian Ayala-Fauna (AKA). uncertaintyindustrial electronica, field recordings, Gregorian chants, and manipulated ambient sounds to create highly immersive sound art.