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Minihi virtual debut

Very notable this week because they made their online debut as a four-piece last night via a dice.fm stream playing from Recaptures Minihi present a sound that is unusual and distinctive. I harbour a theory that bands that become big do not …

Published: 10 Apr 2021. Updated: 25 days.

Very notable this week because they made their online debut as a four-piece last night via a dice.fm stream playing from Recaptures Minihi present a sound that is unusual and distinctive. I harbour a theory that bands that become big do not correspond closely to the rules of a genre but become attached anyway to a certain community who habitually gravitate towards a certain one no matter how heretical the band that they have latched on to happen to be. So that partly explains outliers like Get the Blessing, Portico Quartet, Neil Cowley trio, Kokoroko. It may very well happen with Minihi and certainly this very impressive showing leads me to think that they will be a band we all know about before too long when touring resumes. As a jazz listener I get what they play instantly but it is not jazz that they are playing at all in the sense of close or any adherence to the obvious stylistic attributes of any of jazz's many traditions apart from one: a very strict emphasis on cross-rhythms. (However it is interesting that percussionist Zands has a jazz background.) These cross-rhythms, and this is an immaculate virtuoso rhythm band given that you have a kit drummer and two percussionists led often by Duggan from the mallets or following the Agnes Obel player's vocalised enchanting, are absolutely vital at the heart of their sound. What they do isn't about any variant on minimalism if you just see them as a classical contemporary outfit because they don't fit that billing either. It also isn't anything to do with groove. Their material is very striking and almost metronomically precise, I like the use of hammered dulcimer best of all, certainly there is a strong emphasis on structure that helps shape what they do and so because of a framework in the writing the tunes actually have a narrative to them that you can discern. I am not talking about the back story to the tunes which to me is not as interesting a defining factor although they provide a lot of colour. Duggan and Zands explained these articulately in chats between performances in last night's stream. The Minihi sound isn't naturalistic in the sense that it can easily paint a picture even if it is of a journey on a bullet train or a tender last walk because it is abstract enough not to demand knowledge about what inspired the tunes. In other words it is not programme music. Next departure point will be when the band play in front of an in-the-same-actual-space audience. It is blindingly obvious beyond the fractured kind of Alaska that is experiencing performance virtually that when the time is right they will go down a storm. SG

Minihi: Calie Hough, top left, Louise Anna Duggan, Zands, Jay Chakravorty. Photo: Dice.FM stream

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Maridalen, Maridalen *****

Very 1950s. But what a striking sound that does not belong in a jazz, or any, museum. Almost rockabilly double bass once you get into it with a sort of a Jimmy Giuffre-type atmosphere to 'På gjensyn' bolted on first impulsive impressions suggest. …

Published: 9 Apr 2021. Updated: 23 days.

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Very 1950s. But what a striking sound that does not belong in a jazz, or any, museum. Almost rockabilly double bass once you get into it with a sort of a Jimmy Giuffre-type atmosphere to 'På gjensyn' bolted on first impulsive impressions suggest. These then swirl around. The presence of trumpet (it's Pixel's Jonas Kilmork Vemøy no less) is almost an afterthought because the Maridalen sound is greater than the sum of the parts and is a collective unity. That is part of the magic. Who the hell are they? Why does it matter? And most of all what on earth does 'På gjensyn' mean? Before getting to all that other members are saxophonist Anders Hefre and double bassist Andreas Rødland Haga by the way. From Norway the band sound as if they were born in a jazz club and currently are resident permanently in one and yet they made the album in a church. Something as good as this does not come along every day. 'På gjensyn' may mean ''Goodbye'' unless Google Translate has been on the bevvy again and the piece really is about someone called Godtfrida. What, while we're at it is 'Blir det regn i dag, tru?' translated as something like ''Will it rain today, believe me?'' it appears. Glad to be of service. Both tracks are ace by the way. 'Koral' is very adroitly arranged, the harmonies coming through very achingly. 'Svartoren' with more experimental arco bass at the beginning changes the timbral dimension of the sound and also appeals. 'Russisk landsbymelodi' (''Russian village melody'') has an insistent quality is very compositionally strong and you could imagine this piece being orchestrated. Noir of course is needed up to a point on anything Nordic. May 'Midt på natten et sted' meaning ''In the middle of the night somewhere'' be the place to locate the very same? Tsk, no. The Maridalen sound isn't ostentatiously if for some disappointingly fully doom-laden. The individuals involved are content to look solemnly into the middle distance a fair bit but they do joy too as a spin-off. It's been a while since I've been turned on by anything from Norway as much as Maridalen. Remember where you are when you first hear this amazing record. Jot the place name down even if it is a remote car park that comes with a Lidl. Never mind if you don't because we are in territory that is idyll all the way. On Jazzland. Jonas Kilmork Vemøy, top left, Andreas Rødland Haga, Anders Hefre