Not Meant for Mere Diversion
Karl W. Nehring | Ostrander, OH USA | 07/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two of my favorite musical groups are Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio and Radiohead. In a sense, the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (E.S.T.) sounds like what Keith Jarrett's group would sound like if Jarrett, DeJohnette, and Peacock all suddenly became huge Radiohead fans, and maybe Jarrett had started hanging out and swapping riffs with Christopher O'Riley, the classical pianist (and host of NPR's From the Top) who has recorded a couple of remarkable albums of Radiohead transcriptions.
No, Viaticum does not feature any Radiohead transcriptions, nor are there any tortured vocals. But the feeling that comes across from the music produced by pianist Svensson, along with bandmates Dan Berglund on bass and Magnus Öström on bass, brings to mind some of the Radiohead sensibility and musical lyricism that O'Riley discovered and tapped into. Or, perhaps I am just nuts, and it would be best for all concerned if I could just figure out how to disappear completely...
E.S.T. plays tunes that are lyrical acoustic jazz sorts of compositions, but by adding a touch of electronica here and there, and a touch of rock energy, most notably in some of the work done by bassist Berglund, they achieve an emotional intensity that is extremely involving. At the time I picked up this CD, I was in the midst of dealing with the terminal illness of my mother-in-law. Listening to Viaticum over and over during that time was a source of both comfort and energy. This is music of density and substance; it is not meant for mere diversion. It is intense, involving, and melodic--sometimes familiar and comfortable, sometimes fragmentary and disquieting, but always musically and emotionally rewarding.
This is a recording that should appeal to a wide variety of music lovers. I recommend it without reservation."