Fra Det Onde ‘Feat. the Legendary Emil Nikolaisen’ LP (El Paraiso) 5/5

Fra Det Onde or From Evil is a first-time collaboration of three musicians from Norway; drummer Olaf Olsen, Rune Nergaard on electric bass and trumpeter Erik Kimestad Pederson. All are well established with participation in groups and projects too numerous to mention here. As the title suggests, there’s also producer and legend, Emil Nikolaisen behind the desk, contributing sonic wizardry and odd tinkle on the old Farfisa.

The high-pitched pulsing Morse Code transmission-like tone signals the start of “Fri”, then slowly joined by fierce drumming and hard-driven bass guitar rumblings. Fiery shards of trumpet are harmonised with kaleidoscopic electronica giving a fascinating opaque quality to the overall sound. “Os” has more space and the wraithlike horn is backed by the free rhythm section. The sonic collage towards the end has a brooding presence which is abruptly disturbed by the crashing cymbal which introduces “Captain Gold Silver”. Pederson’s claustrophobic distorted trumpet and Olsen’s free playing is held down by Nergaard’s growly chordal bass motif.

Fluid, sinuous trumpet and deranged Farfisa skirmish on “From”, driven by the frantic proggy mutant-12-bar bass line. Olsen’s exciting, hostile drums feature on “Our” which is an off-kilter-blues electric funeral march and segues into “Sins” with a phasing electronic pulse. “Sins” becomes something like a meeting of “Bitches Brew” and NEU! The short but melodic trumpet phrases flow on a Motorik rhythm section with electronic drones and space rock glides.

This is a bracing and exhilarating record. A fusion project led by a trumpet immediately evokes Miles but there are other interesting elements at work here. The playing is very aggressive, much harder than most fusion, more heavy rock in attitude. This appeals anyway but what really excites is how this is balanced with studio manipulations and electronics which really takes this to another level providing a bold, dense but abstract, shimmering, other-worldly whole.

Kevin Ward