Petter Eldh ‘Projekt Drums Vol. 1’ LP (Edition) 5/5

‘Projekt Drums Vol. 1’ is the new album from Swedish bassist and producer, Petter Eldh, whose new album is released via the UK’s Edition Records.

I have to confess, seeing the name Petter Eldh attached to a project peaks my interest in a way other artists don’t do. My initial introduction to his music came through the phenomenal Koma Saxo project – the Eldh-helmed super group released through Helsinki’s We Jazz Records that took the concept of contemporary jazz, shook it violently in a blender of late 90s-inspired backpack hip-hop production and created something unlike anything I had ever heard before. Whatever the results were, they were in fact inspirational levels of brilliance that needs to be heard to be fully understood.

Conversely, his work with vocalist Lucia Cadotsch for her ‘Speak Low’ album equally stands out – rounding out their trio with saxophonist Otis Sandsjö, ‘Speak Low’ beautifully recreated jazz standards like ‘Don’t Explain’ and ‘Ain’t Got No / I Got Life’ that have been tackled countless times and reconceptualised them with a bass and saxophone accompaniment to Cadotsch’s vocal. Haunting, ingenious and unparalleled in its vision, the album is a stark contrast to Koma Saxo but such is Eldh’s incredible scope, there seems to be a reinvention with each outing.

Eldh’s ‘Projekt Drums’ seems to build upon ideas almost already perfectly captured by Koma Saxo although two projects sounding nothing alike. With each of the six tracks presented here showcasing a collaboration with a different drummer, Eldh and his featured ‘plus one’ seek to celebrate the concepts of – as aptly described via the artist’s Bandcamp page – “heavy beats, psychedelic sounds and musical collaboration”. The six featured drummers are an auspicious line-up in anyone’s eyes – each with a wealth of experience as performers and musicians having performed with an extensive array of artists as well as, in many cases, leaders of their own collectives. Even with each contributor’s indelible status and accolades, you have to believe Eldh’s invitation still afforded them that fresh-faced excitement for trying something completely new.

The revered London-based Richard Spaven, who guests on ‘Goods Yard’, serves as a perfect pick due to his own skill for creating music within that small middle ground between jazz and electronica; the New York-based prodigal talents of Savannah Harris blesses the album opener ‘Lorimer’ while Nate Wood, the US jazz-fusion multi-instrumentalist features on ‘Green Street’. Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen features on ‘Gimsøy’ which is very possibly the album’s centrepiece for all of its intricate twists and turns over the course of the song’s 8+ minute runtime.

While the drummers for each track are certainly being afforded their due prominence for ‘Projekt Drums’, the album in general still benefits greatly from an incredible team of musicians throughout. With Eldh assuming a variety of roles including bass, piano, synthesizers, guitars and production, further guests come in the form of pianist Kit Downes and the aforementioned Otis Sandsjö on saxophone amongst others.

The introduction of ‘Vol. 1’ within the title is a tantalising prospect for future releases within this series. ‘Vol. 1’ however is another within Petter Eldh’s catalogue of music projects that see him continually embrace the challenges of where he can likely take his music next, subsequently redefining the parameters of what constitutes contemporary jazz.

Imran Mirza

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Petter Eldh presents ‘Koma Saxo’ LP/CD (We Jazz) 5/5