12 O'Clock Track: "The Electric Airbag Police," shape-shifting abstraction by Norway's Astro Sonic | Bleader

12 O'Clock Track: "The Electric Airbag Police," shape-shifting abstraction by Norway's Astro Sonic

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One of the things that attracts me to so much of Norway's adventurous music scene is how porous the lines between genres are, if those boundaries exist at all. It's almost more typical that musicians work primarily in the spaces between jazz, rock, and experimental sounds than squarely within any one of them. Drummer Gard Nilssen is an excellent example of this kind of fluidity, and on 12/10 he'll show off that versatility when he plays in two of his working bands at Jerry's Sandwiches, playing modern jazz with Cortex and bruising prog-rock with Bushman's Revenge. But those two projects are just the tip of the iceberg for Nilssen, who's also a member of the trio Puma (with guitarist Stian Westerhus), Lord Kelvin Trio, and Space Monkey—to say nothing of any number of more informal projects and sideman work. In today's 12 O'Clock Track, the shape-shifting abstraction of "The Electric Airbag Police" comes from another of Nilssen's bands: Astro Sonic is a mostly improvising trio with bassist Rune Nergaard (who also plays in Bushman's Revenge) and keyboardist Erlend Slettevoll (the Core). The group recently released a terrific debut album called Come Closer and I'll Tell You for the excellent Hubro label (an imprint that represents Norway's hybrid-happy aesthetic better than any other record company save Rune Grammofon). The music is propelled by heavy, fractured grooves, but the focal point of the group is Slettevoll, who serves up an ever-shifting array of analog synth figures—whether spaced-out tonal washes or knotty, splattery bloops. All three members contribute hard-to-identify electronic elements, giving the music a simmering, ominous feel only occasionally shattered by a spasm of serene melodic relief as on "Analogue Karma," one of a handful of composed tracks on the album.

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