If you crave musical experiences that intrigue the ears and create emotional memories the name Bugge Wesseltoft should be very high on your list of must hear artists. Although his name may resemble a medical condition he is quite the opposite of being harmful to your health. This album is the latest of Wesseltoft’s masterful creations, he has about 15 albums to his credit and more that he has been a collaborator on, long may his creativity continue. Sadly, like most artists of his ilk he is bound to remain unknown to most of those who might enjoy his work. Which is not only a shame but verging on the criminal as Wesseltoft is one of the most inspiring instrumentalists (piano, synthesizers, percussion) currently producing music in Europe. A Norwegian, he belongs to a breed that are generally considered to be jazz musicians, but his prowess stretches (much like many of his scandiwegian peers) far beyond the confines of jazz. Wesseltoft is a musical power station who is not confined to any genre, he seamlessly mixes styles and rhythms in a fashion that at times can only be described as magical. Case in point is this album, a collaboration with Henrik Schwarz (computer, small percussion) who made the album Duo with Wesseltoft in 2011, and Dan Berglund (double bass) of Tonbruket and formerly est.
The trio use their instruments with great creativity. The music is flowing and melodious, in parts hypnotic, in part dance inducing. Wesseltoft’s piano is sampled and treated and accompanied by computerized percussive and distorted sounds as well as plucked and bowed double bass. It may sound like an attempt to reinvent cacophony but the end result is a coherent wall of innovative sound spread across eight short tracks. The album offers a set of elaborate soundscapes that veer from the majestic to the rhythmic. The sound is rich but is not particularly transparent, a result of the electronic and digital elements introduced by Schwarz on his computer and by Wesseltoft sampling the piano. The album starts slowly and picks up pace to end up in an expressive and haunting version of Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight. Not for the first time Wesseltoft demonstrates his skill at breathing magic into well known pieces; this is one of the most original renditions I have ever heard. It is equaled and possibly bettered by Valiant, the second track on the album. Rumours abound at The Ear that some of the qualities found on this album relate to the fact that after years of head shaving Bugge is sporting curls. It certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt.
I am currently compiling my list of the best five albums of the year, a list I thought I had sorted but this has thrown a spanner in the works, it stands a very good chance of being included.