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A Journey to The Self: Tribute to Esbjorn Svensson / Trio


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By Mehdi El Mouden

He never claimed to play jazz and was often at pains to explain his music. Esbjorn Svensson could blend together electric frenzy along with jazz swing. The result is often a tripping music, punctuated with ending trance.

The first notes leave the impression of climbing stairs. Repetitive, rapid and accompanied with drums, they pave the ground for the journey to be undertaken. Unlike songs where one's mind can stray a bit for stroll, Svensson's songs compel attention. Similar to story telling, the introductory piano notes grab attention and carry the listener into the wonderland. The steps of the traveler quicken and frenzy takes place with rapid repetitive piano notes. At the back of it, double bass and drums follow. After that, the piano fades in the décor. A moment of serenity is then sought where confusion is reached through drums; a feeling of haziness is experienced, then trance follows to put an end to the nauseous trip. A picture of Doris travelling with Boris,when God created the coffee break or behind the yashmak are all songs where Svensson manifests his talent for carrying away the listener into the realm of musical sphere, and then experiences the crash trance.

Melancholy often characterizes EST's songs. The same sensation of walking in the middle of nowhere can be sensed through ascending repetitive piano notes, yet with a slow rhythm as if the walker is at pains to pursue the long way. What though the way maybe long or serenade for the renegade are notable examples by their melancholy feeling that Dan Berglund stresses with sore bows on Arco bass. Similarly, other songs carry the same feeling but end in a hard rock texture, again with aggressive double bass playing. reminiscence of a soul and the Unstable table and the infamous fable although smooth songs, end in a trash way similar to outbursts of repression, seeking appeasement.

EST music is also a search for the soul, the outburst of deep seated feelings that the song wraith explores. The fury of hide and seek play between drums and piano goes on for 8 minutes then reconciliation is felt through appeased echoes between the two instruments. Similar in introduction, O.D.R.I.P echoes instruments on ebb and flow, then are pierced by Esbjorn's piano solo followed by heavy metal sounds of Arco-bass and drums. Appeasement is slowly reached then silence ensues with a glorious bonus ballad that Josh Haden sings tenderly “if we meet again, I'll tell you how I feel, I'll tell you love is real." From fury to quiet, Svensson's compositions need no further comments but emotional perception, search for the unmistakable sensations that tripping songs embody.

Smooth songs are also part of this sensitive emotionally loaded repertoire of EST, that one may call 'ballads' such as believe, beleft, below, Pavane, Ballad for the unborn or that unknown song played live in Juan Les Pins. Hard to classify these are outstanding examples of songs pregnant with contrasted feelings of Joy, melancholy, loneliness, disappointment, elation, epiphany... and all sorts of sensations that songs could embody. Esbjorn Svensson rightly pointed out “we play how we feel."

Indeed akin to a person experiencing different feelings in a lapse of time, EST's songs display changes in moods and tones ranging from electric frenzy to acoustic smooth jazz, passing by trance sound effects. Such tripping sounds are the stamp of the Swedish band who got the ability to make one hear and feel sensations for the self-journey.



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