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I Took Up the Runes
Jan Garbarek
I Took Up the Runes
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

There's a stately splendor in much of this 1990 recording, whether it's infused with a broadening calm or a welling tension as Garbarek synthesizes his disparate inspirations into frequently compelling music. Mari Boine Pe...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Jan Garbarek
Title: I Took Up the Runes
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: ECM Records
Release Date: 3/29/1994
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 781182141926

There's a stately splendor in much of this 1990 recording, whether it's infused with a broadening calm or a welling tension as Garbarek synthesizes his disparate inspirations into frequently compelling music. Mari Boine Persen, a Lapp singer, contributed the first tune, an evocative musical call that summons Garbarek's frequent use of folklore, an element that's further developed by singer Ingor Ántte Áilu Gaup on the traditional song "His Eyes Were Suns" and his own "Rahkki Sruvvis." The five-part "Molde Canticle," at more than a half-hour, is the CD's centerpiece. It's a shifting tableau with a startling change of pace for "Part 4," a rock-driven piece that fully unleashes Manu Katché's driving drums and Garbarek's always potent tenor saxophone. Garbarek synthesizes elements in his saxophone playing as well. His distinctive tenor sound can assume elements of King Curtis and the R&B stream, while it adds expressionist touches from his roots in the jazz avant-garde to the title track. There are fine contributions from Garbarek's regular associates, including Rainer Brüninghaus, who plays piano throughout, and the virtuosic Eberhard Weber, whose electric upright bass, both bowed and plucked, is a distinctive upper-register voice. --Stuart Broomer

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CD Reviews

I'm torn as to whether this or his previous disc, Legend of
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 03/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Actually, it really doesn't matter. If I give the nod to Seven Dreams, it's because it first assayed his shift to elegiac folk-jazz and because of "He Came from the North." Yes, "Molde Canticle" is entirely remarkable, perhaps even trumping anything on the former disc from the standpoint of sheer virtuosity. But maybe, just, not quite matching the wide-eyed clarity of ur-folk/jazz vision so amply on display on Seven Dreams.

On the other hand, this disc bountifully expands the sound palette, even as it retains the minimalist approach, including, for the first time, long-time collaborator Manu Katche on drums, and an early taste of electronic pioneer, Bugge Wesseltoft, on synth. Plus, it contains perhaps Eberhard Weber's finest recorded bass playing on "Molde Canticle, Part 3." Also, I absolute love how Garbarek so subtly deploys Wesseltoft's synth stylings: They're never obtrusive, always absolutely geared to their proper accompanying role. And his tenor playing on "Molde Canticle, Part 3" seems to me to be his strongest on disc. Another highlight: Vasconcelos's percussion on "Molde Canticle, Part 4," brilliantly integrated into the adventurous soundscape laid down by Garbarek's muscular tenor sax, Katche's extroverted drums, and Weber's declamatory bass.

Have I talked myself into this as Garbarek's finest outing?


But not quite. For one thing, there's too much tenor playing for my taste--a sax I actually prefer, under most circumstances, but falling short of the great concept Garbarek has on soprano. Second, despite the obvious aptness to the proceedings of Ingor Antte Ailu Gaup's voice, it somehow subtly adds an alien element that can't quite be fully integrated into the folk-jazz vibe. (Others may, certainly, disagree, and conclude that this is the crowning achievement of Garbarek's folk-jazz conception.) Third, I think this disc may be a little too long. The title cut, oddly, isn't one of the highpoints, delving, as it seems to me, in faux rather than real mystery, and the last two numbers, "Bueno Hora, Buenos Vientos" and "Rhakki Sruvvis," seem to evoke a vibe already adequately explored.

But these are quibbles. This is certainly one of the absolutely finest, if not the very finest, of the many discs in Jan Garbarek's vast canon, one you'll certainly want to avail yourself of, if you haven't already."
Promises Of An Ocean Deep
Antti Keisala | Jyväskylä, Finland | 02/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Just like any other Garbarek enthusiast would tell you, this is a deliciously lucid album. But in the Garbarek Canon this ranks as the most translucent experience from any of his work, rising even higher than Legend of the Seven Dreams, Visible World and what Rites could have been; another three albums that I consider my favourite Garbarek, apart from his avant-gardist jazz from of the early days.

"Molde Canticle" is an astonishing piece of music, a testament of solitary introspection, something that ECM does all the way starting from their album art up to their style of production, just as well as this is a testament to the economy of improvisation. I cannot think of any other moment with more fondness than playing the first part in front of an audience; there is such clarity of expression, of dynamics and of mood that it sends shivers down the spine. This is not the ordinary, drairy stuff, this remains unconsumed to the last moment being uplifting, as does the best of Garbarek in every occasion.

Now, the Molde Canticle piece is the epicentre of the album, which would have made it astonishing on its own right already. I am thankful, however, that there is something else and that this something else does not go down the usual Garbarek route, either as strikingly different in mood and timbre to shake the sweetness of the rest of the album, or as numbingly filling the rest of the air space. That is, the epicentre itself is such a collocation, such a unity, so integral that it feels impossible to think of anything external forming a larger existing unity to fill the rest of the album. But these songs flow from the heart and into the soul, and Garbarek's approach to the archetype through folkloristic improvisation prevails: the whole album folds into itself time and again, either as a lone voice calling from the top of the mountain or a jazz/rock piece played in a music hall. To listen to this album again is each time a new experience, deeper than before because your soul has changed, and deeper because of the things you still find, and things you remember from it. This is not a mirror, but it does reflect ourselves just as the greatest art does - we can loose ourselves in and build our lives upon it because we know that the foundation holds. Music is one of the things that helps us identify with not only our personality, but our voice of expression. And this is one of those transcendental experiences to cherish.

Just as someone else already said: disparately sublime."
Incredible experience
Joao A. M. Neto | Brazil | 11/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am 40 and listen to jazz since I was a child, as my father was a jazz fan. I play and teach guitar, and have a musical education background. I still do not know why, but since the beginning of the year (2004) I got much more deeply in love with music and specifically jazz - I work listening music, I listen music driving, at home etc. and I have probably purchased about 150 jazz CDs this year. This is certainly the one I like the most. I have listened to the whole CD about 4 or 5 times, and all of them were among the greatest aesthetic experiences I had. This CD is fantastic. I've been learning to enjoy Garbarek, and actually like all his CDs I have purchased until today, but this one is the great of the greatest. It is a journey. It is incredible a group of people could have composed and played such music. You feel transported to another dimension of reality, you feel hypnotized, you feel totally involved with the players and the music. A unique experience, from those that make living worth."