Mathias Eick: Ravensburg (ECM 2584)

Ravensburg

Mathias Eick
Ravensburg

Mathias Eick trumpet, voice
Håkon Aase violin
Andreas Ulvo piano
Audun Erlien electric bass
Torstein Lofthus drums
Helge Andreas Norbakken drums, percussion
Recorded June 2017 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: March 2, 2018

Since stepping through The Door into ECM bandleader status, Mathias Eick has decorated every room of his new abode with its own character. Where Skala felt like a kitchen filled with organic ingredients and Midwest a study plastered with maps and well-read books, for Ravensburgthe Norwegian trumpeter and composer has built a welcoming family room, as blueprintedin the opening track. For Eick, however, it’s clear that family is more than a question of blood; it’s also the sum of parts greater than what we know from direct experience.

Recalling the puzzles famously produced in this album’s eponymous Southern German town, each tune contributes its own piece, uniquely shaped yet vital to the whole. “Children” is another anchoring corner and adds a new thread to Eick’s sonic tapestry: his singing voice, a natural development for one who always seems to have approached the trumpet as an extension of the throat. In addition to its melodic earworm and nostalgic overlay, this tune fits together the new band’s own seamless puzzle. In the resulting landscape, violinist Håkon Aase is the stream to Eick’s river. Where the latter carves deeper grooves into the earth, the former traces paths through thickly settled forests and other places where a finer trajectory is required. Pianist Andreas Ulvo rolls with the adaptive rhythms of hills and mountains, while drummer Torstein Lofthus and percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken render every rock and plant with sentient care. Last but not least is electric bassist Audun Erlien, providing the pliant tendons of the far-reaching “Friends” and “August.” The latter’s pianism is also noteworthy for translating the babble of cultural division into a musical language anyone can understand.

“Parents” continues the genetic conversation in fruitful directions, moving with the fortitude of a protector while curling inward in the shape of a lullaby. Eick and Aase trace a helix of improvisational bliss across this sky, further striating the rhythm section’s wonders in “Girlfriend” and “For My Grandmothers,” each a soft arrow shot into the future and the past. But nowhere is the story arc so clearly etched as in the title track, where pulses of dreams crack the egg of reality until its yolk becomes indistinguishable from the sun.

Eick is a rare soul, a musician whose themes are as perennial as they are personal. His politics flow beneath the skin’s surface where no violence may be inflicted by or upon them, thus allowing listeners to come as they are yet leave as they never thought to be.

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