"Jazznytt", No. 1 - 1993

Secret Red Thread: (Blue Lunch, Prayer, Secret Red Thread, The Peacock, Positive Frustrations, Raga Mistica, Retroactive Force)

    This is one of last year's most important CD releases. Postitive Frustrations, a telling title in this context: A work of art which, in a surprising way, unites the seemingly un-unifiable. And it must be so, for herein lies the creative tension. What the secret red thread is doesn't matter.  One thing that elevates this record is that for every term one employs to describe it, antonyms pop up. Already in the first track, we are struck by the looseness in the form, which is quite strict. Each of the three instruments works within its own rhythmic level; it seems effortless, but impossible. It must be extremely demanding to play, but is so easy to listen to that we can never figure it out.

    For the listener, this track gives the impression of an extroverted meditation, an open form which is closed in itself, simultaneously sparing and generous. The opening phrase appears new and fresh, while pleasing us at the same time with its disquieting familiarity; isn't this bop? I cannot decide whether the music is abstract or insistently concrete; it is both. It is unexpected and obvious, unintelligible and self-evident. And it stands, in the sense that nothing can be added and nothing removed; and yet we are left with a feeling that everything could just as well have been different. It is a delightful feeling. It communicates something decisively essential without meaning anything, a liberation which is inescapable.

    The point of departure is a monstrosity: The jazz world's undeniably most annoying instrument, sound-wise, alone against bass and drums. Admittedly, the vibraphone has had its golden era; there were textbooks written in which the typical jazz band consisted of vibraphone, piano, guitar, bass, and drums, but for the most part it was unbearable. Only a few managed to defy the task's impossible nature, by way of an extraordinary musicality and something else that nobody could set their finger on.

    And now, without guitar and piano. And it's enough. By a lot. That says something about Rob Waring. The problem is that the onset of a note on the vibraphone creates overtones that can get deaf dogs to creep under a rug, and the sustained, overtone-free sine wave which follows is no relief - it's worse. A greater challenge is almost inconceivable. The instrument begs for abuse, for orgies of rapidity and sound. Waring plays it with exquisite economy without for a moment giving the impression of musical impoverishment; on the contrary, he is as disciplined as a monk, but as lavish as - well, a monk.

    The compositions are for the most part by Waring. One can explore them or just accept them, they are there just the same.  Frank Jakobsen delivers his best playing. Why hasn't this man received more recognition? Or has he? Than what? Carl Morten Iversen delivers his best playing. Compared to what? I don't know - this is a band. Listen.

Ivar Vatne