“What unites us is our love of jazz, rock and improvised music. In this band every rule and musical boundary is torn down, and we combine our musical influences in one, big gumbo of sound.” says Rune Nergaard.
Nels Cline has been the guitarist for Wilco since 2004, and played in a huge range of jazz, rock and avant-garde settings since his recording debut 40 years ago. A major name in US jazz and improvised music since his work with Dave Douglas, Tim Berne and Uri Caine in the Nineties, Jim Black plays the drums like no one else. His own group, AlasNoAxis, has recorded six albums since its debut in 2000.
As well as collaborating with Rune Nergaard in a variety of projects, Kristoffer Berre Alberts plays with the band Cortex, as part of Paal Nilssen Love’s Large Unit, and with Starlite Motel. He also records and performs in duos with the celebrated English free-jazz drummer Steve Noble, and with the Norwegian electronicist Lasse Marhaug.
Exoterm the band is more than simply the sum of its parts, and the collective sound the four members produce develops its own momentum. Rather than following some well-worn formula of sequential solos or theme-improv-theme methodology, the album’s modus operandi would seem to be that there is no set method at all: the players just go for it, relying on empathy more than competitive licks or grandstanding chops. The result is densely textured, sometimes difficult to decode, musical moments or ‘cells’ that change and adapt as they progress, like the pulsing globules of oil and water in some freaky psychedelic light-show.
The band’s creative interplay of tension and release also lends a particularly organic feel to the music, which appears to expand and contract, or to move from one loose system to another, as if following some obscure natural law. This is reflective of the band’s name, which refers to a specific scientific term, the exothermic process, whereby energy is released into the atmosphere in the form of heat, light, electricity or sound. In an exothermic reaction, more energy is released than was absorbed to initiate it.
“The music consists of small compositions that make a foundation for improvisations”, says Rune Nergaard. “Some of them are just small sketches or basic musical ideas, others are closer to tunes, with more traditional melodies and harmonic structures .”
Both Nergaard and Kristoffer Berre Alberts studied together at the famous conservatory in Trondheim, one of the most important contributors to the new wave in Nordic jazz and experimental music. Nergaard plays in bands like Bushman’s Revenge (the ever evolving trio that has been going steady for over 15 years!), his own up and coming quartet Rune Your Day, Fra Det Onde, and other Hubro label bands like Scent of Soil and Astro Sonic. “Most of the projects I do are some kind of mix of jazz, rock and improvised music. It’s all about the approach, not the genre! And that’s the same with this band.”
What demands the listener’s attention more than anything else on this enormously confident debut album is the sheer physicality of the Exoterm sound. Recorded by Eli Crews at Figure 8 Recording, mixed at Amper Tone, Oslo by Johnny Skalleberg, and mastered by Espen Høydalsvik at Tinnitus. Mastering, Oslo, ‘Exits into a Corridor’ comes across as absolutely immense. From the gossamer-light, pedal, breath and electronics-driven atmospherics of the opening ‘First Light’ and its gradual build-up into a kind of slow-motion thrash, to the unapologetically beautiful and lyrical ‘…Back Towards the Car – Night’, and the full-on, in-your-face, saxophone-as-wounded-animal attack of the chewier sections, this is music of such power and immanence that it that almost bleeds through the speakers, with every last ounce of amplitude registering on the finished recording in order to communicate the ultimate effect.