If jazz was ever meant to be a religion, its prayers might sound something like Nan Madol. The title means “spaces between,” and no description of this music could be more apt. The album is an eclectic mandala of drones, eruptions of ecstatic liberation, and snatches of melody from both near and far. Influences range from Japanese folk melodies to Alpine herding calls, and all of them strung by a powerful understatement of continuity.
We open our eyes to find ourselves in a field at night in which a nearby forest looms with untold life. Soprano sax verses mingle with the shawm-like nagaswaram, dripping with the luscious slowness of honey from a broken hive as abstract solos bounce over a corroded surface of ever-so-slightly detuned harps. We proceed from meditation to incantation, calling upon the sounds of spirits rather than the spirits of sound. Melodies drag, are picked up, only to drag again: the final paroxysms of a dying organism laid bare for our imaginations. Motifs flit in and out of earshot like radio transmissions struggling to hang on. The instruments weep as if the entire album were nothing but a cathartic ritual.
On the surface, the musicians seem unaware of each other, all the while reveling in their secret synergy far beyond the threshold of audibility. This is music on its own plane and we must approach it as we are. There is no middle ground, no meeting point to be had.
This may not be “fun” album to listen to, and certainly not an easy one to describe, but it is rewarding in more metaphysical ways. Far from a jazz album to tap one’s foot to, it is instead a free-form surrender to the possibilities of automatic music. Its mood is inward while its exposition is extroverted and full of exquisite contradictions. If nothing else, the stunning “Areous Vlor Ta” will leave you breathless and vulnerable to the grand Return that brings the listener full circle to where it all began.
:::Review by ecmreviews.com:::
Edward Vesala - Nan Madol (2007)
1. Nan Madol
2. Love For Living
3. Call From The Sea
4. The Way Of...
5. Areous Vlor Ta
6. The Wind
Alto Saxophone, Performer [Snaga Varam], Flute – Charlie Mariano (tracks: 5, 6)
Double Bass, Voice – Teppo Hauta-aho (tracks: 1, 4 to 6)
Flute – Sakari Kukko (tracks: 1)
Harp – Elisabeth Leistola (tracks: 4)
Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Pentti Lahti (tracks: 5, 6)
Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Seppo Paakkunainen (tracks: 5, 6)
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Piccolo Flute, Bells, Voice – Juhani Aaltonen (tracks: 1, 2, 4 to 6)
Trombone – Mircea Stan (tracks: 5)
Trumpet – Kaj Backlund (tracks: 1, 4, 5)
Violin, Viola, Voice, Bells – Juhani Poutanen (tracks: 1, 4 to 6)