Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mind the Gap (or the Sea of Subjectivity)

Tord Gustavsen Ensemble, RNCM, 21st October 2009

Concert going is a funny thing. You bring yourself to it, you the subject. It's swimming in a sea of subjectivity. It's part where you're at, the day you've had, your specific brain chemistry at this moment that is you. So relating meaningful expression is probably somewhat futile.

... but still we try. If there's any hope of sense and meaning, it's lost in the deferring / differing context [différance even]. We fall through the cracks.

And then there's the gap to mind. The physical gap, phenomena versus the ever elusive, always shirking away, end of the rainbow noumena. We never get there. The mental gap, the psychological gap, the sensual gap...

So what of the Tord Gustavsen Ensemble? Well, you know, I don't know if I know. I was lost in all the above. The first twenty seconds were suitably delicate. But the gap was wide tonight, and I fell down much of the time. Gustavsen's thing is languid and diffuse. It's his thing, it's part of the appeal. The breathy song introductions stage an unconvincing reverence. Much of it is good I think. 'Being There' was there, but the piano needs much more space in this sound, as so much effect is in subtle specific nuances. The meanderings of sax player Tore Brunberg sadly rode roughshod over these, masking and obliterating the fragile piano textures and harmony. There was an interesting solo from double player Mats Eilertsen with some nice fast argeggiated plucked chords resonanting with distinctly folk tones.

At some points the TG Ensemble visibly kicked, Gustavsen swaying and sliding across the piano stool in seeming abandonment, but the aural effect was, even then, surprisingly restrained. There was just about enough energy to rouse a few genuine post solo rounds of applause here and there. Drummer Jarle Vespestad played his part, tinkling, tapping and scratching in all the usual places. It adds to the overall wash, but doesn't engage much despite a tasteful, if reserved, solo.

A not unpleasant evening but as I say, lost in the gaps.


Damian said...

I wonder if the acoustics of the venue attributed to your experience. I went last night to see him at St.George's in Bristol and it was spellbounding - I love Jazz music but Tord was new to me - ignore the "long words" and it's really fabulous. You'd need an amazing home sound system to appreciate the music but live and with the atmosphere and acoustic dynamics of St.George's and then you'll see why the capacity crowd were on their feet! So in retrospect of my comments I wonder if his music is limited to just a few choice venues and those who boast a £4k sound system at home (that's not me, by the way!). I'd like to see what he plays in a noisy Ronnie Scotts!

Ade said...

Hi Damian. Thanks for your comment. Good to know someone's checking out the blog. The sound may have been a factor although it was generally pretty good I think. It was partly my mood I'm sure as I indicated. Not sure I'd ever be a huge Tord fan, but there are moments when he's just right. Glad to hear the Brizzle gig was a goodun. Ade