Somnambule - Writing About Music


Although Bugge Wesseltoft is probably best known for his leadership of his New Conception of Jazz project, his musical career has also included stints with Jan Garbarek and duet albums with Sidsel Endresen. Samsa’ra represents another area of exploration in what sounds like a freely improvised setting (there are no composer credits). The title is a Hindu concept relating to change, specifically the fragmented, constantly changing material world.

A string of chords rises above some gentle taps and scrapes. Certain twists and a reflective assertiveness characterise the playing as Bugge Wesseltoft’s, but the melancholic tone edged with darkness differentiates it from his other work. Nilssen-Love seems to be stirring a whole metal forest in the background while Andresen’s bass vibrates starkly, intermittently audible through the dense percussive foliage until it’s revealed rattling against gloomy chords. The soundworld of ‘That May Be’ is full of jangling, febrile agitation. Andresen’s treated bass sounds at times like a wounded dog yelping, while Bugge’s electronic keyboard tones are the sonic equivalent of grazed knees. ‘A Quiet Place’ is warmer, full of the ringing of cymbals and the swish of brushed drums underscored by low, held chords. Samsa’ra positions itself at the interface between melody and freeform improvisation, and also of acoustic and electronic. It’s an interesting experiment, though perhaps a little too severe and occasionally lacking in focus. If, however, Bugge’s New Conception of Jazz is too upbeat for you, Samsa’ra is recommended as a suitable palliative.
Colin Buttimer
May 2004
Published by Jazzwise magazine