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Karja / Renard / Wandinger ‘Caught In My Own Trap"

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    Posted: 19 Feb 2024 at 4:54am
Karja / Renard / Wandinger – Caught In My Own Trap

(BMC Records BMCR328. Album review by Frank Graham) 

KIRKE KARJA - Kirke Karja & Etienne Renard & Ludwig Wandinger : Caught In My Own Trap cover

Taking inspiration from “old creepy silent films and broken machines”, the darkly atmospheric music of Karja / Renard / Wandinger weaves a narrow path between free improvisation and contemporary composition. First coming together in Tallinn February 2020, the group comprises of Estonian pianist Kirke Karja, French bassist Étienne Renard and Berlin-based drummer and visual artist Ludwig Wandinger (whose superb 2020 album The Gloss Effect is a kaleidoscopic collision of jazz and electronica).

Caught In My Own Trap takes its name from a track on the trio’s self-released 2022 debut album. Featuring seven of Karja’s originals and five collective improvisations, the music was recorded in Budapest in March 2023 following a concert engagement at the city’s renowned Music Centre. The programme runs the gamut from the deeply meditative to the positively explosive, and the extent to which the musicians avoid cliché and stock phrasing is simply remarkable.

Each piece unfolds with a continuous three-way flow of ideas, and active listening is essential if you really want to get the most out of this music. The opening “Take My Tender Heart” develops slowly out of a rubato introduction, transforming into a shimmering and largely static form redolent of The Necks. “Sweat” is altogether more energetic, a collective workout that builds inexorably to an ecstatic climax. The oddly stumbling gait of “Seiklus” relies on a host of complex rhythmic sub-divisions, and despite its tight unisons “Margaret” becomes increasingly untethered as the trio lose themselves in a sequence of Ligeti-inspired miniatures.

“Foam” brings some of the set’s most lyrical passages, while Renard and Wandinger’s cat-and-mouse exchanges offer a pleasing hors d’oeuvre to Karja’s dramatic entry on “Prelude”. The hyper-kinetic “Pollock” is as close as you’ll get to action painting with music, while the closing “Runder Sadness” finds the trio taking an uncharacteristically backwards glance at French Romanticism, bringing the listener back down to earth with a soft landing.


An invigorating yet finely nuanced set from three of Europe’s rising stars, and if like me you’re keen to hear more I’d strongly recommend the eponymous debut of Karja and Renard’s other group Captain Kirke and The Klingons, which features the fiery Finnish saxophonist Mikko Innanen, amongst others.  

from https://londonjazznews.com

Edited by snobb - 19 Feb 2024 at 4:56am
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