Minco Eggersman / Theodoor Borger / Aaron Parks / Oskar Gudjonsson ‘UNIFONY II’ LP/CD (Music On Vinyl) 4/5

Unifony is the name of the project that was started by Dutch musicians Minco Eggersman and Theodoor Borger. Their first collaboration, Unifony1, featured trumpeter Mathias Eick. A similar musical path is explored for this follow-up album, this time featuring pianist Aaron Parks and saxophonist Oskar Gudjonsson. Together, they take another atmospheric journey resulting in some beautiful, delicate, mesmerising and ultimately timeless music.

Everything about this release has a lovely, warm, old-school feel to it. Ambient reverbs and analogue sounds mix seamlessly with 21st Century recording techniques. Unifony is a tribute to the work ethic of the ’80s, skilfully crafted music that is made from being able to spend time in an inspiring studio, using great instruments and recording equipment without constant pressure. And you can tell. The session sounds unhurried, patient and thoughtful. This does perhaps ask the listener to be like-minded in return. Taking time to sit down and listen properly to this kind of music is important if you’re to get the most pleasure out of listening to it.

There’s an open-hearted, meditative flow to the whole album that I really like. A feeling of inclusion, of collaboration. The opener on Side A, “Observe” sets the tone, spacious, dream-like sounds drifting in and out of consciousness. The beauty of melody is immediate with the soft, alluring “Discover”. Reminding me of the gorgeous eloquence of ECM albums by the likes of Marcin Wasilewski, Aaron Parks’ piano shimmers with light, allowing for Oskar Gudjonsson’s yearning sax to tell its own story. “Fever” could be an undiscovered, downbeat, melancholic Radiohead tune. Again, the sax brings the melody, yet it’s the overall feel of the tune created by Eggersman and Borger that leaves a lasting effect. The heartbeat that runs through “Deliverance” allows for its simple yet intuitive melody to draw the listener into its world like a beacon of light guiding the way for a lost ship on distant waters. “Drain” builds with its own distinct tension, and “Dusk” is like a long-lost Eno piece from a bygone era. Side B opens with the delightful “Updown”, musical harmonies intertwining between abstract sounds. More diverse is the edgy “Allan”, a moody, darker piece that brings an uncertain intrigue with it. Life is what we are, what we do, what we think and feel. I am reminded of this in a mindful, observational way whilst listening to “Mercy”. It takes me deep within, just letting things be as they are for a little while. The more outgoing, lighter feel to “Move” brings me out of my meditative state, opening me up the world and its many splendored colours. “Abide” closes the album, like a prayer of thanks, an affirmation to life itself.

It’s obvious to me that the whole Unifony project has been lovingly put together. Sensitive, thoughtful, inspiring music. The vinyl album even looks and feels gorgeous, one of those releases you just want to get your hands on. The artwork is once again by James Marsh, and to top it all off, it’s mastered by the one and only, the legendary Bob Ludwig. Quality.

Mike Gates

Read also:
Minco Eggersman / Theodoor Borger / Mathias Eick ‘Unifony’ CD (Butler) 4/5
Minco Eggersman ‘Kavkasia’ (Volkoren) 5/5