Tvuru ‘Tvuru’ CD (Fig Tree Music/AVA) 4/5

Tvuru is a fascinating guitar/bass/drums trio from Norway, featuring Andreas Andersen, Henrik Sandstad Dalen and Ola Øverby. Their music brings together elements of Norwegian folk and jazz, whilst intertwining improvisational concepts and impressionistic effects. There’s an organic, yet harsh landscape pictured in my mind as I listen to this compelling debut, with contrasting themes, colours and textures sparking joy in my imagination as beauty rises from the darkness, like a magical creature summoned from a misty gloom to cast light upon the shadows.

Combining composed material, short tunes, open improvisation and a refreshing take on traditional music, the trio is extremely versatile in its expression, moving it away from the usual guitar-trio format. Expanding their instrument’s potential by use of extended effects and techniques, the band successfully manage to both mimic traditional instruments and create new sound combinations, creating a fresh take on the Nordic jazz sound.

I love the languid, melancholic nature of this music. That’s not to say though that it meanders aimlessly through a series of predictable landscapes – it certainly does not. There’s a life-source and free-flowing energy that not only captures the imagination but serves as a feast for the ears. One minute I’m hearing cosmic water droplets cascading gently against the shore, the next I’m hearing tumbling trees falling against one another in an almost silent forest. The trio have a knack of providing visual conceptions in my mind from the intelligent instrumentation they use. And although their music is often sparse, it allows the listener to breathe in its surroundings, taking time to enjoy the senses on offer. It’s as if the trio are wholly at one with nature itself, releasing their elemental thoughts through the music they make.

The bass leads from the front. Melodic, tuneful and groove-laden, it’s the bedrock for a lot of the band’s concepts and tunes. The drums add depth and character, with the guitar generating idiosyncratic energies and random wonderment. Superb interplay from all three musicians just adds to the distinctive charisma of the music. It makes me think. It makes me smile. It makes me want to listen again. It draws me in, whispering, then shouting, then relaxing as I let myself sink into its unique unfolding drama. And I’m lost… but it’s a captivating place to be lost in, so I think I’ll just stay here for a while longer, happily luxuriating in this other-worldly, folkloric, mystical landscape of Tvuru.

Mike Gates