Bugge Wesseltoft has been sampling himself and playing along with the sample, then repeating the process, building up layers of sound so that one instrument turns into a band, for some time now. This latest release from Norway’s most progressive musical conceptualist finds him working with Henrik Schwarz who is credited with ‘playing’ the computer. The result of this is that Bugge’s piano is accompanied by what could be mistaken for an electronic percussionist/drummer/bass player etc, except that Henrik uses distortion in highly creative fashion and works with Bugge to build the groove into something multi-faceted and dynamic.
It feels like another chapter in Bugge’s New Conception of Jazz series but a better one than Film ing which was made with his band and a more upbeat one than his last solo album Im. So an encouraging move if you enjoyed albums like NCoJ’s Moving. Three of Duo’s eight tracks are live and reveal just how the presence of an audience seems to bring out Bugge’s most direct and inspiring work, but the studio pieces here are very good too. Schwarz is a German DJ and producer who manages to nudge Wesseltoft toward what he does best: grooves. The highlight of the album is the studio production See You Tomorrow which has echoes of seventies prog and manages to makes piano derived sounds positively synth like, an unusual approach but it works.
According to Bugge “This duo feels totally organic. We are creating music on the spot, both live and in the studio.” Improvisation is the name of the game but while he comes from a jazz background you won’t hear this on jazz radio. It’s closer to dance music but far more interesting. Henrik’s take is: “the improvisational aspect means freedom and at the same time improvisation has been one of the greatest limitations and challenges in live electronic music for many years now.” It’s a challenge that they have risen to with considerable skill and I for one will be making an effort to catch them live.