By Conner Jensen
The big and bold Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, often abbreviated to TJO, is a large scale orchestral project that began in Norway back in 1999. Since then they have had several extensive tours throughout their native country. After several lucrative years of making new music and staging different tours, the band earned themselves a permanent state subsidy, making them the first national Big Jazz Ensemble to receive one. The group’s more recent music has also gotten its fair share of praise, with their 2014 album Lions receiving a Spellemannprisen in the Jazz category. With over seventeen years of success under their belt, this group carries a lot of anticipation with every work they produce.
Their most recent album In the End His Voice Will Be the Sound of Paper begins with “Seed,” a slow-paced start to the eight-song piece. The song begins with the complex-yet-sporadic strumming of a harp, which begins to get louder as it’s joined by a slew of other sounds, including piano and some off-kilter percussion. The vocal accompaniment of Kim Myhr and Jenny Hval add a chilling twist to the offsetting melody. “Seed” closes with sounds that are likely to have the listener imagining themselves in the woods, then fades into “Something New.” This song starts with the sharp blowing of horns, which is the only thing breaking the silence for about thirty seconds. Then, a voice breaks the silence and a guitar accompanies her, playing a lighthearted set of chords that contrast heavily with the deep sound of the horn and the other strings that later join into the melody. Near the end, amidst all the other sounds the listener will hear the elegant strumming of a harp that adds for a strange yet pleasing contrasts of sounds that has the listener wonder what to expect next.
“Me, You, Me, You” starts with a fluttery and slightly muffled guitar accompanied by some very unique percussion instruments, which soon develop into a melody. The rest of the orchestra soon comes out to play and causes a whirlwind of sounds before calming everything back down. Then, horns and the harp become the most predominant sound while the percussion continues to chime in. When the vocal accompaniment joins in, the overall sound begins to intensify with violins squeaking and the instruments building in volume and intensity before deflating to finish the song. “The Beak” then comes crashing in with cymbals and the low-toned blowing of a tuba, which is soon accompanied by the shrieking violins. This song follows the pattern that most of the songs have so far, where it starts out strange and ominous then develops into a twisted-yet-sunny sounding melody. When the singing begins, the song becomes cheerier and the original sound has become much more peaceful. However, when the singing ceases, the ensemble roars in to add some chaos before the song closes out, eliminating the calm.
The fast-paced strumming of a guitar and chimes starts out “Mass.” The primary sound is quickly joined with the rest of the ensemble, making sounds that you would never imagine were instruments. The vocal accompaniment is slow-paced although the melody is incredibly fast-paced, making for a noticeable contrast that gives the song an ominous sound. This seven minute song is sure to put you into a peaceful trance as you lose yourself in the masterful confusion. The intense calamity soon begins to fade and “Even the Vowels” begins. A waning set of violins begins this song, starting slowly only to build from there. Soon a voice breaks in to begin singing in a fashion that sounds like she’s struggling to get out the words. This creates an overall tone of struggling, with a sound like a siren occasionally dancing in the background of this very dark and unsettling song. As the song fades, the singer comes back once more before the track fades out entirely.
A hurried strumming of guitar and a muffled yet swift percussion are the beginning sounds in “Soft as Tongues.” Shortly afterwards, other instruments begin to join, with the primary addition to the overall sound begin from the synthesizer. The melody begins to intensify, then suddenly drops off, and then fades back in slowly as the singer incorporates her chilling voice into the overall sound. As the song finishes out, there are a slew of flutes playing by themselves as other instruments fly in and out before fading into the final song, “Silence a Beat.” Starting with a very calm guitar line as the predominant sound, it’s a very relaxing start to the ending of this work. The vocal accompaniment adds a soothing tone to the very simple yet elegant melody. Soon, the melody becomes more complex, as the other instruments in the ensemble slowly begin to contribute their two cents into the song, developing into a more complete melody that is still just as soothing. This album ends the same way it began: in a sporadic, yet calm manner as it fades out.
In the End His Voice Will Be the Sound of Paper was release under Hubro last week. While they are a jazz troupe, it’s unlike any jazz you’ve ever heard. Every song is a journey for your mind, and after one listen you’re sure to be listening back through, either to make sense of what you heard or to enjoy the whirlwind that every song entails.