METTE HENRIETTE (METTE HENRIETTE MARTEDATTER RØLVÅG) — Drifting (review)

METTE HENRIETTE (METTE HENRIETTE MARTEDATTER RØLVÅG) — Drifting album cover Album · 2023 · Third Stream Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Matti P
Drifting is the second album by the Norwegian saxophonist and composer METTE HENRIETTE (b. 1990). While the eponymous debut (2016) contains pieces for both trio and larger combos, here all music is for tenor sax, piano and cello. This is my very first listening of the artist. According to the All Music Guide "Drifting is gentler, quieter, but no less challenging than its predecessor. Its compositions reside in the amorphous aural terrain between jazz, folk, and contemporary classical."

That description sounds accurate. This is ambient, lyrical, thoughtful, peaceful and elegently spatial music that breathes organically. The given low rating here actually feels a bit strange without a review to explain it. To me, the album sounds very beautiful. The saxophone is often played gently in a breathy manner, Johan Lindvall's piano weaves meditative patterns and Judith Hamann's cello adds the needed warmth to the sound that is easy to associate with a wintery landscape (such as the one in the cover). Some slight dissonance here and there makes sure it all doesn't get too sleepy.

The composer herself has said that "this album is in movement. It's on its way somewhere and has its own pace -- its creative agency is fundamentally different from what I've done previously". Mette's countryman Jan Garbarek at his most meditative might be a good reference, and the more ambientish side of producer Manfred Eicher's trusted ECM oeuvre in general. Some kindred spirit as a saxophonist can also be found in Linda Fredriksson from Finland.
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