This new album IM is dedicated to tragic events in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and of one particular victim, Zawadi Mongane who Bugge heard interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme last year
Many of you will know Bugge as one of the key members of Jazzland Records crew with the New Conception Of Jazz projects or his many collaborations, like the Laurent Garnier Live album of last year Public Outburst with Philippe Nadaud and Benjamin Rippert (actually, great version of 'Man With The Red Face' on that one).
IM has none of that crossover jazz/dance/club vibe. Bugge himself was interviewed last year again on the Today programme explaining how touched he was to hear Zawadi on their programme. Indeed, it is a strange interview as you would never have guessed the pure evil events she'd suffered from her quiet explanation of what had happened to her. And it's this dignity as much as anything else that inspired Bugge to write WY and include the recording of her voice (without the translation).
'WY' is introduced with a typical George W soundbite on the fight against terrorism bringing home the obvious issue that Bush-types are only interested in the $ in their pockets. No doubt the Beeb will be picking up an award for their coverage of this, but the news never stops and as Bugge points out, Zawadi's story is not an isolated one. Kenya is the current African state to get in the disaster lime light and Zimbabwe is rarely out of the news for all the wrong reasons.
That said, after our party season's end, this album brings us some refection and calm. Mostly as solo piano and an array of keyboards, IM is close to the modern classicism of Keith Jarrett with modal and ambient influences.
Norwegian Mari Boine, who is best known for album Gula Gula on Peter Gabriel's Real World label some years ago, helps out on 'YOYK' on vocals and drum. It's one of those grower tracks and ignoring the mixture of track titles of capital and lower case lettering (Why?), the first track 'BLACK PEARL Make Dream' has that hypnotic feel that gets you coming back time and again.
Not the sort of album that you can easily dip into. Take your time and absorb all of it. Whether it will make a difference to the lives of the oppressed is another matter.
Reviewed: Bugge Wesseltoft - IM (Jazzland Records)
Cat. No. 0602517435858
Bugge Wesseltoft: Piano virtuoso, flag-bearer of "the new conception of jazz", centrepoint of Jazzland Records. Bugge Wesseltoft: Who dares to take lovers of music, not scenes - to places unknown ... returns to ourspace with his long-awaited, self-dubbed "real solo album". And what a joy it is to have Bugge back! Focused. Contemplative, and alone (almost). Back to the "playing", the direct input emotion - with Bugge the composer and performer taking the studio centre stage. Here on "IM" Bugge has the courage to let the Jazzland trick-nology take a temporary sabbatical - allowing the recordings to asborb the all the richness of his sound, melody and the depth. Yes, for Bugge Wesseltoft in 2007, 88 notes is all it takes - a black and white piano horizon where all the true Jazzland colours are there for the listener. But this is not stictly acoustic pianoforte, no. In genuine Jazzland zeitgeist Bugge sequences subtle sound design, field-recordings, shocking news reports from around our f***ed up world, hand-played organic percussion grooves, and with Sami World music legend Mari Boine also providing a soulful "?jazzland-meets-blue-joik" guest appearance. "IM" is perhaps Bugge Wesseltoft's most intimate and meditative release to date, and yet at same time, it is his most fearless. Bugge?s music and Jazzland output has always confronted musical boundaries, expectations and transient definition. And the result ... well, once again, lovers of music worldwide get delivered "the latest conception of jazz" from the master himself. A wonderful "real solo album" indeed. Let yourself go.
All Music Guide