This Is Not a Mir­a­cle

Pasatiempo - - PASA TEMPOS -

The first col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween per­cus­sion­ist Thomas Strø­nen and sax­o­phon­ist Iain Bal­lamy go back to the 1990s and Nor­way’s icy pro­gres­sive mu­sic scene. Since then, as Food, they’ve re­leased a string of ob­scure­la­bel col­lec­tions, of­ten fea­tur­ing con­tri­bu­tions from guest mu­si­cians. Their sound, beat-driven and moody, sus­pends Bel­lamy’s thought­ful sax­o­phones high above Strø­nen’s dense and color­ful per­cus­sion col­lages. This Is Not a Mir­a­cle is a sleeker doc­u­ment than their 2010 ECM-la­bel de­but Quiet In­let, which was a mostly laid-back af­fair. The tracks on the new disc, all in the three-to-five minute range, make a fuller em­brace of elec­tron­ica, hold­ing more groove, more bass push, and more melodic ac­ces­si­bil­ity than the ear­lier record­ings, while still keep­ing a chill, en­gag­ing edge. This is Scan­di­na­vian house mu­sic, as cool as the next Dan­ish celebrity chef and equally ex­pert in pre­sen­ta­tion. On the opener, “First Sor­row,” guest guitarist Chris­tian Fen­nesz in­tro­duces him­self against a glis­ten­ing back­drop of elec­tronic and acous­tic per­cus­sion, with chords that echo a dis­tant band­saw rip­ping into wood. “Where Dry Desert Ends” is dance-floor stuff, com­plete with a fist-pump­ing theme. The ti­tle tune is a shuf­fle through a bad neigh­bor­hood, Fen­nesz’s gui­tar the stray dog growl­ing down its al­leys. The al­most seven-minute “Earthly Car­riage” is a creepy slow jam haunted by so­prano sax. “Sink­ing Gar­dens of Baby­lon” is liq­uid with shim­mer­ing gui­tar chords. Sweet? Yes, and not with empty calo­ries. — Bill Kohlhaase

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