Arild Andersen: In-House Science (ECM 2594)

In-House Science

Arild Andersen
In-House Science

Arild Andersen double bass
Paolo Vinaccia drums
Tommy Smith tenor saxophone
Concert recording by ORF, September 29, 2016
at PKS Villa Bad Ischl, Austria
Recording producer: Michael Radanovics
Engineer: Alios Hummer (Radio Österreich 1)
Mixing/mastering: Jan Erik Kongshaug and Arild Andersen
An ECM Production
Release date: March 23, 2018

The swirling, majestic world of bassist Arild Andersen’s trio with drummer Paolo Vinaccia and saxophonist Tommy Smith is difficult to contain, which is probably why it’s best captured in a live recording. On In-House Science, we’re treated a 2016 performance from Austria. Over the course of six Andersen originals, sensations ranging from reflection to full-blown transformation are handled with equal commitment.

What begins as a soft awakening in “Mira,” courtesy of Andersen’s sunlit tone, turns into a blinding sunrise as Smith unleashes a fiery sermon. Toward the end of the tune, a hint of uplift dies as quickly as it’s born: a signal, perhaps, to remind us that getting inside the heads of listeners is far more vital than making them nod in agreement. That being said, there’s something about the way in which these three powerful characters merge so democratically from the fog of egotistical possibilities. They follow as much as lead, take in as much as elicit, and fall into loose interpretation as much as strict. That they’re able to triangulate them so selflessly all is not only remarkable; it’s downright laboratorial. Hence the album’s title, which is split between two tracks that, together, encapsulate Andersen’s powerful ethos while also expanding its parameters. In “Science,” he and Vinaccia connect to form a Möbius strip of sonic fuse, while Smith traces its endless spark more thrillingly than the possibility of any explosion. The passionate degaussing that follows from Andersen is an album highlight, as much the exhalation to Vinaccia’s inhalation as the other way around. And while “In-House” builds on similar principles, its fluency is deepened by Smith’s growling ruptures of translation. Again, bassist and drummer turn the spotlight inside out, making sure that every particle is given a voice. This is art that fulfills the promise in compromise.

Between those two mountainous zones we get the temperate valleys of “Venice,” “North Of The North Wind,” and “Blussy.” The first is a prize fight between antiquity and modernity, Vinaccia mapping every punch and parry with his kit. The second is an ambient turn inward, its electronically sequenced bass telling a love story between land and water, and the ever-changing border of their contact. The last is a modern classic of Andersenian muscle, and gives Smith more than enough fuel to fly his rocket through the stratosphere without ever losing contact with home base.

I was brought to this album by the yesterday’s sad news of Vinaccia’s passing, for which today has been a time of solemn remembrance yet vibrant listening. May he continue to be heard.

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