Fredrik Ljungkvist – reeds
Magnus Broo – trumpet
Håvard Wiik – piano
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – bass
Hans Hulbœkmo – drums
Atomic was established in 2000 and already after their first two studio albums Feet Music (2002) and Boom Boom (2003), both their growing audience and music reviewers alike began to perceive them as an original flavor with an entirely individual energy that few Scandinavian jazz groups could match. Even though initially thought of as a sort of rebellion to the quaintness of the “Scandinavian Sound” which had become exemplified by Norwegian artists on labels such as ECM, Atomic found themselves becoming a new sort of unique sound on their own. An explosive blend of American free-jazz with European characteristics is how some reviewers have described them. Or better yet, “part academic lecture, part a fun night out on the town”, is how the band describes themselves, and is what makes their sound truly Atomic.
While they make no secret of their admiration for leading American jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington, Archie Shepp, Charles Mingus and George Russell, just to mention a few, the music of Atomic is also mixed with an equal love of European free jazz and improvised music. They regard the American and European jazz traditions as an inspiration rather than a restriction, as a springboard to set their own direction and position within jazz music.
No strangers to the touring circuit, Atomic were on the road almost as soon as they were formed, and they have since 2000 been touring extensively in Europe, Japan and the US. They have released 12 CD’s including their 2010 releases “Theater tilters Vol 1 & 2”, in connection with their 10 year anniversary, and “There’s a hole in the mountain” in 2013.
“There’s A Hole In The Mountain”. Atomic venture into their immediately recognisable, yet strangely unfamiliar blends of jazz and contemporary classical influences. With compositional duties led by reedsman Fredrik Ljungkvist and ivory manipulator Håvard Wiik, with the full-on dynamism of the polymorphic rhythm machine of Paal Nilssen-Love and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and the mercurial trumpet styling and lip-melting riffs of Magnus Broo, Atomic only seem to become ativan more and more inventive and daring. Despite each band member’s involvement with “side projects” such as Motif, The Thing, The Deciders, The Young Mothers, and countless others, their musical
well never seems to run dry so much as spill over.
“Accidentals” kicks things off with a manic intensity, quick-shifting gears and performing musical tirespins without breaking a sweat. “Wolf-Cage” by contrast begins sparsely, too tense to be sedate, before breaking into a spiralling march toward a controlled chaos. “Civilon” has a kind of urban cool feel to it, hints of modal jazz and French cigarettes, but as can be expected with Atomic, things take a sharp left turn into a more Ornette Coleman-esque soundscape, before jumping the river into the kind of high energy improvisation more associated with modern free jazz. “There’s a Hole In The Mountain” begins with a feeling of the ghosts of Felix Mendelssohn and Franz Liszt drinking absinthe in a twilit chalet just as it gets sucked
into the titular hole, and in the roots of the mountain are legions of notes working together in ways that human ear has never heard before. “Available Exits” demonstrates Atomic’s uncanny ability to make a music that sounds spontaneous, almost impossible to even pre-plan in the vaguest form and is perhaps comparable only to Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band for the sheer defiance of standard compositional logic at play. “Labyrinths” steps things down a level, a wandering mixture of expectations aligned with discoveries, the feeling of being lost yet with a definite path to follow, a romantic notion bleeding through walls of nihilistic jazz existentialism.
Throughout the album are breath-taking solo passages (well – why wouldn’t there be? And would they ever be anything other than breath-taking?), moments of manic humour, slyly winking invention, perverse pleasures inlaid with meticulous whirls and whorls, nods and elbow-nudges towards (alleged) influences and gold-plated antecedents, dark pleasures and blinding angst, endless energy and moments of satisfied exhaustion. This latest studio album confirms what fans have known for years: Atomic energy is an endlessly renewable source of pleasure. Hook into the grid today.