Somnambule - Writing About Music


11th November 2005

Wibutee are squeezed both literally and metaphorically tonight – the stage is tiny and they’re the second of three acts on the bill. The Norwegian electro-jazz quartet find themselves preceded by a solo tuba set by Oren Marshall and succeeded by Separated By Shadows, an improv sextet. Wibutee stick out like a sore thumb in this company. It’s as though whoever programmed the night was unaware of both their reputation and their music. Such sequencing is a feature of the festival that sometimes work and sometimes frustrates. After Oren Marshall departs, the Wibutee banner is draped as a backdrop and dry ice billows at regular intervals across the stage. The youthful four piece that appear shortly afterwards look every inch the part of leftfield nu-jazzers in likeably creative haircuts and apparel. The set launches with material from their second and most recent album, Playmachine, now more than a year old. Given the right group, it can be a real pleasure to hear a track radically reconstructed. Part of the pleasure’s lies in spying which elements have been retained, transformed or jettisoned. So it is with much of the music tonight. Their sound is rawer than their studio offerings and the resulting textures provide more purchase for the ear to gain a grip upon (gorgeous as Playmachine is, the relative smoothness of its production at times means that effort’s required to maintain focus on the music). Wibutee have tonight transported into spooky, gothic-noir territory. With the lights dim and green, and dry ice swirling at his feet, Håkon Kornstad, the group’s leader and saxophonist, whistles the sort of cheery refrain familiar to the haunted house victims in the audience. For most of the set Wetle Holte slams out massive beats with grin-inducing forcefulness, Rune Brøndbo contributes a wealth of textures and melodies and most recent recruit ? delivers effective and pleasingly loud underpinning. At times the group go about their work like a skilled butcher opening up a carcass and allowing a monster out, at other times it’s like an enthusiast building a hotrod out of spare parts. It will be interesting to see whether Wibutee choose to deliver these sort of thrills on their next release. My only complaint is that the set’s much too brief. Maybe next time they’ll get the chance to play a full set.
Colin Buttimer
Published by Signal To Noise magazine
Photograph of Paal Nilssen-Love

Image of Sakamoto playing with video screen behind him

Image of performers leaving the stage