Jazz Related Rock • Norway
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Wibutee, one of Norway’s most noted electrojazz groups, have been receiving an expanding international audience, consisting of a public and critics who are not confined by the traditional expectations of the form. One of the most exciting sounds to emerge from the Norwegian electro-jazz scene, Wibutee has evolved and grown into musical expression uniquely their own. From the jazz and electronica underground which gave them their beginnings, they are quickly emerging as a group with their own style and their own definitive experience of new musical sound. Now with the release of their third album, Playmachine (Jazzland Recordings, 2004), Wibutee opens the doors to a wider sonic world enticing the listener to give up their preconceived notions of two seemingly opposed genres of music. Created in Trondheim, Norway, in 1996 by Håkon Kornstad (saxes, flutes, programming), Per Zanussi (bass, programming), and Wetle Holte (drums, programming), their initial aim was to read more...
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WIBUTEE Newborn Thing album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Newborn Thing
Jazz Related Rock 1998
WIBUTEE Eight Domestic Challenges album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Eight Domestic Challenges
Jazz Related Rock 2001
WIBUTEE Playmachine album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 2004
WIBUTEE Sweet Mental album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Sweet Mental
Jazz Related Rock 2006

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WIBUTEE Sweet Mental

Album · 2006 · Jazz Related Rock
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Electrojazz is a great description of Wibutee, but then, there is a bit of rock to go with the nu-jazz sound too, and on their last album, 'Sweet Mental' that rock-feel is probably best demonstrated by the catchy 'Aalo' where Hakon Karnstad’s tenor is used to play a sequence of riff-like lines, something used to great effect elsewhere on the album. In fact, the focus on arrangement rather than soloing (though there are solos too, not to worry if you need to hear them in your jazz) demonstrates the rock and pop approach, and adds to the memorable nature of much of the music within. You hear it and a lot of the melodies get stuck in your head right away. Thankfully, in this case that isn’t a hallmark of something that I’ve tired of quickly, coming back to this one many times over the months since I picked it up.

The varied electronic aspects are vital to the overall feel of ‘Sweet Mental’ which is powerful in establishing an at times sombre mood (‘Stereo Plains’ or ‘Sebastopol’ for instance) and the album could not do without them. After the contemplative opener, one of two vocal pieces, ‘Aalo’ is probably the most uptempo. Whether it’s the quieter, clean tones of the guitar or the keys, synth and celesta, the uncluttered use of the drum kit (or any instrument for that matter) throughout, the album just keeps its head above too much pensiveness with a few upbeat songs, ‘Two With Nature’ coming as welcome burst of sound toward the end of the album.

Elsewhere the electronics blend nicely with the rhythm section in little clicks and smaller sounds designed for texture, such as in the jagged ‘Travel with You’ - a stand out with its overdubbed horns and haunting synths, it’s enhanced with shifts in rhythm and a careful but highly effective layering of instruments. In ‘Sweet Mental’ the tenor becomes especially distinctive, in part due to the contrasting instrumentation surrounding it (which is again, nice thinking from the band) but also due to the style of play, with a focus 'parts' rather than long solos.

While I’m not entirely sold on the vocal pieces with their reasonably minimalist instrumentation (neither are poor but rather just not as enjoyable as the other pieces) ‘Sweet Mental’ melds its seemingly disparate elements into a really cohesive and emotive whole that is memorable on first spin and reveals deeper textures the longer you play it.

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