Mattias Risbergs Mining (no pedantic apostrophe needed here), hereafter referred to as Mining, named themselves, appropriately, after their 2018 debut gig in a disused mine in the heart of Bergslagen in Sweden. Zauerberg is the follow-up to the band’s first album Live In Stripa (Kullen Reko, 2018).
Mining sports some big names in Swedish jazz including bassist Dan Berglund (Esbjörn Svensson, Bugge Wesseltoft, Fire! Orchestra), reedsman Fredrik Ljungkvist (Marilyn Crispell, Wadada Leo Smith, Fire! Orchestra) and vocalist Jennie Abrahamson (Peter Gabriel, Ane Brun). Whilst Zauberberg was intended as the second in a suite of three pieces, it works perfectly in its own right.
Björk-like spoken words from Jennie Abrahamsson introduce the opening title track which suddenly transforms by way of a dramatic vamp with Abrahamsson now delivering vocals with considerable heft, her voice charged with emotion. Here there are distinct comparisons between Mining and the Henry Cow / Slap Happy team-up. Although Abramsson’s range begins around an octave above Dagmar Krause’s the effect is just as profound.
Mining is however more melodic and less angular than the Cow / Happy fraternity. There’s even something Zappa-esque on Shrink which throws in some diverse time signatures and instrumentation gradually resorting to an underlying reggae pulse. Red Ponds sees guitarist David Steckenäs satisfyingly invoking the full metal jacket weightiness of Allan Holdsworth.
Whilst much of Abrahamsson’s delivery is wordless there are some tunes with lyrics such as Rocks ’n’ Stein where she seems to channel the likes of Kate Bush and there’s an accompanying whistled catchy melody acting as a free earworm. But if it’s shock-prog King Crimson-like riffs you crave, try Megaphone for size with just a hint of 60s television theme tunes. Starkly contrasted with that is the mellifluous closer Obstacles with its melancholic phrases and haunting violin from Josefin Runsteen.
These consistently engaging original compositions, all masterfully penned by Risberg, unearth a rich seam of highly intelligent and brilliantly executed tunes.
Zauberberg, Sweet Science; Shrink; Red Ponds; Rocks ‘n Stein; Megaphone; Obstacles (42.04)
Jennie Abrahamsson (v); Mattias Risberg (kyb); David Steckenäs (elg,g); Fredrik Ljungkvist (ts,cl); Josefin Runsteen (v, pc); Dan Berglund (b, elb); Jon Fält (d). Stockholm, 2-3 December 2019.
Kullen Reko 002