Anders Jormin, Lena Wilemark, Karin Nakagawa’s Trees of Light

4th December 2015

Title: Trees of Light

Label: ECM

On Anders Jormin’s new Swedish-Japanese project. The trio format always suprises me. The fact that so much music can come from so few people.

Trios can not only break down walls but build new ones. As in here. Just flip over the CD case and check out what Willemark, Nakagawa and Jormin are playing. It begins with a slightly raised eyebrow because we have Willemark on voice, viola and, wait for it, fiddle. Preparing for a hoe-down’, you are brought to a screeching stop by Nakagawa’s 25-string koto which is backed by the double bass of Jormin. This combination slowly reveals itself, as I have done above, on the very first track, Krippainggler.

Although the order is a little different. The introduction of the koto sounds like the album will explore Japanese formal music traditions with an intriguing use of space and silence to emphasise distance and size. The flowing introductions of the bass and plucked strings takes the track into a new direction but the female vocal suddenly offers a more avant-garde approach to the work that, suddenly, has a dream-like, broken nursery rhythm quality to it.

Same thing happens later with Urbanus. The early double bass notes trick you into thinking that we may be preparing for a distinctly standard jazz-flavoured groove but Willemark’s slightly halting vocal then builds a tonal structure that resembles a shed built from wood of differing lengths, thicknesses and types, giving the vocal a sculptural aspect. The koto, skips around Willemark’s ankles like a frisky kitten.

There’s a simple sparsity to this album that tricks you into thinking that it’s going to be ambient and that it will roll over you in some Eno-like manner. Not so. This music makes you think. Stay alert with this one.