New! Updated artwork for international release.
Atomic's debut album Feet Music presents the latest instalment of exciting and creative new jazz from Jazzland. One of the key bands of the 'new wave' of Scandinavian jazz currently attracting much press attention, Atomic brings together five important young musicians from the adventurous jazz underground of Sweden and Norway. Formed in spring 1999, they quickly forged a strong group identity without sacrificing individual freedom of expression. Combining the powerful, cutting edge Oslo rhythm section of Håvard Wiik on piano, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums -- a combination that received rave notices as the rhythm team of the Coltrane-influenced 'cult' group Element -- with the Stockholm front-line of trumpeter Magnus Broo and saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist, this group are one of the freshest acoustic ensembles to have emerged in the new millennium.
Boom Boom is the much anticipated follow up to Atomic’s debut album Feet Music. One of the most exhilarating groups on the European jazz circuit combing collective melodic ingenuity, fierce energy and individual virtuosity they are widely seen as one of the most important up and coming bands in jazz.
This release won the Norwegian Grammy for best Jazz album 2003.
THE BIKINI TAPES
The new live three-disc collection The Bikini Tapes is the best testimony of Atomic's captivating abilities on stage. It's an ironic name - especially with the painting of a palm tree on the cover. The disc was recorded in cool Norway during seven concerts at the beginning and the end of Atomic's exhaustive 2004 European and American tour (which included a joint tour with Vandermark 5 that was chronicled in Atavistic's 2004 Flammable Material poster box set).
The Bikini Tapes feature seventeen tracks from Atomic's two previous jazz releases, Feet Music (2001) and Boom Boom (2003), and their collaboration with Ken Vandermark's School Days (Nuclear Assembly Hall, Okka Disk, 2004) - as well as one cover, Radiohead's "Pyramid Song," and new compositions, all penned by Ljungkvist (the main composer), Broo, and Wiik.
HAPPY NEW EARS!
How do you follow up the release of a universally acclaimed triple live album? By releasing a CD filled to the brim with 65 minutes of amazing new material.
The combined talent of Fredrik Ljungkvist (saxophones, clarinet), Magnus Broo (trumpet), Paal Nilssen-Love (drums), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass) and Håvard Wiik (piano) is just that: Atomic.
The scandinavian quintet don’t waste their time or their talent on their forthcoming release Happy New Ears! It is only last june we had the pleasure of indulging in the three disks of The Bikini Tapes.
During two session days in february and one in early november, the ten brand new compositions on display here came to light, at Bugges Room-studios in Oslo, Norway. Writing credits are shared between Ljungkvist and Wiik, with Broo contributing the stellar piece "St Lureplass". It ranks among their best work, period. From the chewing tobacco mania of "Two Boxes Left" (Ljungkvist) to the staggeringly beautiful weltschmerz of "Closing Stages" (Wiik); Atomic here touches upon the very essence of their music.
Atomic may have started out as a not-exactly quiet protest against what was considered to be the scandinavian sound; the frosty tundra bite of ECM lyricism. However, after their two studio albums Feet Music (2002) and Boom Boom (2003), Atomic quickly came to epitomize a scandinavian sound all of their own. Much has been said about their blend of the explosive american free jazz tradition, and the more complex european stylings. This new album put them firmly in the Atomic tradition. The sibling rivalry of the swedish horn section, the all over the place percussive beingthereness of Nilssen-Love, the long distance runs of
Håker Flaten, and the mighty, magic fingertips of Wiik: part academic lecture, part fun night out. And this might be a factor in the Atomic appeal: without compromising the music at all, they have managed to bring it outside of an esoteric circle of musical know-how, and into a larger circle of wanna-know-hows. After powerful, spirited gigs throughout Europe, USA, and Japan, they have gained an evergrowing following of fans. If we are to judge from the music presented on Happy New Ears!, it will not exactly take rocket science to predict that the future is ear-shaped. This release won the Norwegian Grammy for best Jazz album 2006.
The Scandinavian quintet Atomic are now entering, in piano player Haavard Wiik’s words, "our difficult second box set-phase". Not too many years have passed since their universally acclaimed 3-disk bonanza The Bikini Tapes, but now they are at it again with Retrograde. The triple collection is bursting with exciting new material that is further advancing the legacy of this stellar jazz combo. Their initial goal of combining the american Fire music of the sixties with the advanced stylings of european improvisational music have since long been achieved, and they are now constantly refining and/or attacking their own tradition.
One of the most memorable tracks on Retrograde can be found on disk one, titled "Invisible cities", composed by Wiik, who alongside reed player Fredrik Ljungkvist writes most of the tunes. It may very well be a tip of the hat to the Italian author Italo Calvino, and his book of the same title from 1972, where we in short chapters are introduced to some fantastically invented cities, as told by adventurer Marco Polo to the emperor Kublai Khan. The cities are fictionalised, but still exist somehow, in the imagination of the narrator - and the listener, as shades of societies past and present, and possibly future ones as well. Likewise: The compositions on Retrograde all evoke images of substantial volume and scope: It is the world atomized. It may also be a more prosaic reference to the fact that the members of Atomic, however tightly knit as a performing unit, live in four separate cities, in four different countries. Magnus Broo (trumpet) and the aforementioned Ljungkvist (saxophone, clarinet) are inhabitants of Stockholm, Sweden, and have been working together for so long that finishing each others musical sentences could be continued while enduring water torture. The Norwegian delegation have been playing together since their early twenties. Paal Nilssen-Love carries his drum kit around the world, from his home base in Oslo, while Wiik resides in Berlin, Germany. And look to the windy city of Chicago, USA for the bass thump of Ingebrigt Håker Flaten. Might as well make the most of it when they do find the time to meet up in the same room! This creative outburst is evident on the two disks of studio material.
But there are other cities represented on this box set as well. "Live in Seattle" was recorded some six months after these studio sessions, and you can sense how developed the compositions have become during the year. The recording sound is knocked out and beautiful, or is that a description of the audience? The disk plays its part in the package as a supplement, to shed light on the very nature of the new material. For our listening pleasure there are also two older Håvard Wiik compositions on this disk presented in glorious new effect, from the starter "Crux" all the way to the typewriter machinegun attack of the final track "ABC 101B".
But the new material most certainly rank among the most precious moments in Atomics eight year long career. Wiik and Ljungkvists material show off their compositional and improvisational skills at full force. But make sure to lend an ear to the tunes by Broo, the funked-up live showstopper "Painbody" (don’t ask), and Håker Flatens majestic "Swedish Oklahoma in the desert of love" (don’t ask). The albums title refers to the action of moving backwards, but this must surely be a joke. Retrograde is the sound of a band near it’s peak, but let us hope they never really reach it.
All Material Copyright Atomic