Nordic Connect’s sophomore record, a fan-funded ArtistShare release, is elegant in its discordance. Spirals offers the quintet an opportunity to explore seemingly incongruous moments, but it also provides for moments of beauty and sunlight. Built on shards of seemingly broken sounds and pieces of sonic jubilation, it’s a recording that sinks its teeth in.
Nordic Connect is Ingrid Jensen (trumpet, flugelhorn, electronics), Christine Jensen (alto and soprano saxophone), Maggi Olin (piano and Fender Rhodes), Mattias Welin (acoustic bass), and Jon Wikan (drums, percussion).
Prior to recording Spirals at Systems II in Brooklyn, the quintet spent three years touring Canada, the United States and Scandinavia. The interplay reveals deep connections between players, but it also reveals a sense of adventure borne out of life on the road and of fresh ears.
The album suitably changes shapes throughout its paces. As Ingrid explains in the liner notes, this is by design. “Spirals can take on many shapes, from the wild eye of an angry hurricane, churning its way across the ocean to wreak havoc on the shore, to the serene, pristine beauty of a whirlpool galaxy, millions of light years away.”
What makes Nordic Connect special is that they transition from ostensibly calamitous circumstances to staggeringly beautiful moments with effortless precision. The compositions, the bulk of which are Olin’s compositions, come packed with the richness of Nordic culture. Each of the band members share a common ancestry with Vikings, so that sense of charting adventure into the unknown mist flows organically through the playing.
Whether the proud, anthemic passages of Olin’s “Song for Inga” or the contemplative piano of Christine Jensen’s “Yew,” Nordic Connect’s ability to disintegrate genre lines and just bloody well play has to be celebrated. These compositions are rich in culture and context, telling stories with sweeping extensions of Jensen’s trumpet or flourishes of Wikan’s amazing stick work.
But more than Spirals is just a series of compositions, it’s a tapestry of woven experiences. Jensen’s group shares deep caverns of culture, telling tales of getting lost in the magic of life and returning just in time for that last cup of tea at the end of the sun-kissed day.