The rich Scandinavian scene keeps revealing all its multiplicity and inventiveness. Now it happens with the first opus by the quartet Festen, assembled by Isak Hedtjarn, Lisa Ullén, Elsa Bergman and Erik Carlsson. The last track of the album is titled “it never gets better than this”, and it’s right: to go beyond what you’ll find here would be difficult, but considering the quality and the capacity for novelty happening in the North of Europe we never know. What surprises most about this cauldron of creativity is the number of new names constantly appearing, and you find some of the best in this recording. The most internationally recognizable is the one of pianist Lisa Ullén, and she acts in this context like a fish in the ocean. And what a vast ocean, with a central current marked by a renewed perspective of what we call free jazz, fed by reminiscences coming from every sort of contemporary, new and experimental music. Acoustic, raw and spontaneous, Festen’s art is hyperactive, bright and very affirmative, simultaneously heavy and fragile, visceral and subtle, capable either of a big impact or taking you to a microscopic world of intricate details. A wonder once again, but with different arguments.
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