Monday, 25 July 2011


Out to see a gig last night. Magnus Ostrom, at The Hub.
Jesus. What a lot of baggage this guy's bringing to his work. You can't possibly have been a member of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio for about 15 years and it not have a bearing on peoples expectations of what your own sound will be like.
Luckily I'd heard the new CD before the gig and, while it is different from any EST album, it is in the realm of where I suspect EST may have been heading (if the last album " Leucocyte" was any indication). A move closer towards "jazz-rock" a move which, for me, left me feeling doubly upset that I knew, obviously, this would be the last EST album - I personally do not see it as their best.
Certainly there are a few numbers on the new Ostrum CD "Thread Of Life" that do cross the boundary of what I, as a listener, am completely comfortable with (my problem, not his). But there are a few such as the wonderful "Ballad for E" and the titular "Thread Of Life" that share some of EST's ambient jazz feel, where gentle ballads are washed over with soft electronic effects and Ostrum's brushes take on a rthym that washes over the listener like gentle waves.
Ostrom's drumming was amazing with as much more work being done softly with the brushes than hard hitting thrashed out solos (though one hard hitting solo on the final, as yet unreleased, encore was amazing). 
I have to be honest and say that Andreas Hourdakis on guitar wasn't really my cup of tea. An excellent guitarist there was nothing wrong, that I could see, in his technical ability. Simply put; I prefer my guitarists to be a bit more redolent of Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrell and owe a bit less to "Slash" or "The Edge" (feckin stupid names, both). Pat Metheny, who appears on the CD version of "Ballad for E" is about the limit of my listening extremes.
I also felt that Gustaf Karlöf on piano was excellent, though perhaps a bit under used. I can understand Ostrom not wanting to become too reliant on piano for his music; too many comparisons... this has to be Magnus Ostrom's own sound not EST II.
A good night out and I'm glad I went. But was it "jazz"? I'm not sure, as I said the jazz-rock line was crossed more than once and not onto the side that I favour. Would I go again?? Maybe, but there are other acts I'd go to see first.
Another minor point. This may a symptom of my tinnitus or it may be a symptom of my early-onset-old-fartedness but to me the music works better on CD with the volume cranked down a bit. Felt some of the subtleties were lost in the loudness of the mix.

I know this sounds like a bad review. It's not meant to. It was good (mostly). I think it's actually more a criticism of the realisation of my limits as a listener.


The Jaggy Thistle said...

"Magnus Ostrom"? Really?
You're sure you didn't just dream a Jazz Club sketch?

pb said...

I always find live music too loud. Why would it be in the interests of a musician to deafen their audience? Just another bad habit of contemporary life, turning the vol up to 11 (spinal tap). Its the cheapest way to add substance to an event.
I got free tickets to see Lou Reed (not my choice) and I could hear it better with my fingers in my ears.
Some people are thick. I prefer to listen to music pre-recorded where I control the volume.
Peter Buchanan