I hadn’t hear much of Per Texas Johansson (b 1969) – one of Sweden’s finest improvisers and composers of recent decades – since his striking Kaza albums of the late 1990s, Alla Mina Kompisar and Man Kan Lika Gärna Leva. The press information for this new and captivating release on the excellent Moserobie label advises that the multi-instrumentalist and Swedish Grammy winner whose CV features associations with, a.o., Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Paal Nilssen Love, Guy Barker, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Dan Berglund and The Swedish Radio Group, “pretty much left the scene in 2000, returning in 2015”.
No reason is advanced for such decisive action, but whatever it may have been, it’s great to have Johansson back. This is his second album for Moserobie and it features all the things I always enjoyed about his work, including the sort of gently turned use of folk elements featured on the vocal-led Barballad. Everything is taken to a new level of chromatic and poetic imagination, playing and arrangements, the whole evincing a delicious range of elegantly turned rhythmic impetus and rubato reverie, epitomised by Jalusi. Whatever his instrument, Johansson played with incisive and space-conscious intelligence, with various string instruments at times supplying telling complement to, for example, the sonic poetry of clarinet, marimba or vibes (hear the now edgy, now extended and searing violin figures of the cooking Flimmer).
Sample, further, the judiciously employed four-part choir and layered percussive pulses of the meditative Lethe, its eerie atmosphere extended in the floating phrases of En Klung Bildas. Enjoy, in contrast, the growling contra-bass clarinet and offset funky figures of Siffro, where top Swedish mallet man Ståhl comes on strong, or the lightly projected shuffle pulse of the finger-clicking title track. And make up your own dance moves to the piping joys of Om Igen, featuring notable contributions from Ståhl and Agnas. Superb, broadly conceived yet completely integrated music.
Lethe; Siffro Och Tecken; En Klunga Bildas; Stråk På Himlen Och Stora Hus; Börja Om Igen; Blues I Dis; Hår Börjar Regnbågen; Allt Var Som Vanligt; Jalusi; Flimmer; Barballad (41.54)
Johansson (cls, ts, o, f); Mathias Ståhl (vib, m); Josefin Runsteen (vn); Margareta Bengtsson (hp, v); Rebecka Törnqvist (v); Konrad Agnas (d). Plus on Lethe: Sara Isaksson, Peter Lindberg (v). Studio Atlantis, 2019.
Moserobie MMP CD 119