Worlds collide when the raucous Budapest-based power trio ‘JÜ’ (consisting of fire-breathing guitarist Àdàm Mészáros, fuzz-bassist Ernö Hock and the remarkably flexible drummer Andràs Halmos) joins Bergen-based saxophonist Kjetil Møster for this subversive meeting of the minds on RareNoise Records. A powerful manifesto for ecstatic, exploratory, envelope-pushing music mixed by Bill Laswell and mastered by Michael Fossenkemper. JÜ Meets Møster bridges the gap between free jazz and hellacious, distortion-laced, guitar-driven hardcore rock.
The album opens on an explosive note with a turbulent tenor sax-drums breakdown between Møster and Halmos on “Dear Johann” which takes on the feel of latter day John Coltrane or free jazz icon Albert Ayler jamming with the Allman Brothers Band on “Whipping Post” or vintage King Crimson on “21st Century Schizoid Man.”
“Bhajan” opens on a darker, more mysterious vibe before building to a potent crescendo, with Møster wailing on baritone sax, which is steeped in the tradition of Jimi Hendrix’s bold jazz-rock anthem “Third Stone From the Sun.” Møster stretches freely with baritone sax on the moody and spacious “Morze” while “Hassassin,” full of slamming unisons and fierce overblowing by Møster, is an intense showcase for drummer Halmos. Mészáros adds another frantic six-string onslaught at the tag of this intense offering. The four intrepid musicians explore collectively on the more atmospheric “KJÜ” and they close out the collection with the expansive, 15-minute “One,” which makes dramatic use of echo to create an otherworldly texture before building to a powerhouse conclusion of thunderous proportions.
“This collaboration came about because I got to know Andras after he attended the very first concert of my own band called Møster! at Kongsberg Jazz Festival in Norway,” explains the esteemed saxophonist. “One of my own goals with my own group is to show that different genres are not necessarily as far away from each other as one might think today. Up until the mid-80’s, musicians and artists from completely different musical directions were collaborating and drawing inspirations from one another. I dream of the times when Velvet Underground would go to Sun Ra concerts and use the inspiration in their own music. Or to hear the mythical collaboration between Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix. (My theory is that the music industry needed the segregation of musical genres to increase their sales, making people incapable of using their musical taste and to think for themselves, since the record labels already told them what the music was and who should buy what genres.) So I guess Andras heard some reflections of his own thoughts in my music and invited me to play with some Hungarian soulmates called JÜ. In describing his process of collaboration with JÜ on this RareNoise debut, Møster offers, “What surprised me was that they use some of the same compositional approaches to improvisation as I do. So the compositions are just skeletons, and we put meat on them as we improvise. And some of them, like KJÜ, is all free improvised, but as we go we talk about sound textures, instrumentation, temperature, forms and shapes. It might sound academic or intellectual, but it’s done very intuitively”.
Regarding his own influences that came to bear on this rare encounter with JÜ, Møster explains, “For me, Coltrane has without a doubt been the strongest influence on my life as a musician. I’ve had many incredibly strong, overwhelming, physical experiences listening to him. And his approach to music has learned me a lot. And seeing how he influenced Albert Ayler, John Gilmore, Roscoe Mitchell, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, to name a few, has expanded that influence, since they also influenced me a lot.
As for the open-mindedness that he exhibits as a musician on this project and others, Møster says, “I do play very many different kinds of music and with many different bands. This past summer I played with Röyksopp and Robyn, an amazing Norwegian rapper named Lars Vaular and my long time electro-rock band Datarock.I find the same kind of open-mindedness in the members of JÜ. They all play and like very different kinds of music. So we can play on very different references, talking musically together in different languages, or mixing languages, so to speak.
Halmos started playing music relative late, at age 17, but soon found himself in a band that played complex compositions with odd meters. “Over the last 20 years or so I’ve played in many bands in many styles but I’ve always stayed in the underground circuit as a musician,” he explains. “In the last 11 years I’ve made my living as a concert promoter for bigger venues and festivals, bringing acts that never played in Hungary before. As an organizer, I’ve had a chance to spend time with many of my musical heroes like drummers Joey Baron, Kenny Wollesen, Billy Martin and learned a lot from them. I also had chance to study and play with drummer Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker as a member of a workshop big band at the Mediawave festival. The two of them introduced me to Gnawan music and encouraged me to study it. In fact some of the first things we ever played together in JÜ were based on those trance-like Gnawan patterns. Guitarist Mészáros was initially inspired by the Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin records his father turned him on to. “From age 10 we always had a guitar at home,” he recalls. “I played but never got too serious about it until high school when I actually forced myself to listen to and learn jazz because I felt like this was what I had to do to get a degree in music and to be a high level player. And, of course, players like John Scofield, John McLaughlin and Bill Frisell just blew my mind.” By 2005, Mészáros grew tired of formal music studies and began playing in pop-rock bands, traveling across Europe and earning money along the way. By 2007, he started to get involved in experimental and improvisational music, which led to his encounter with Hock and Halmos. Bassist Hock began playing at age 15. “My main influences were hardcore and metal back then which changed almost immediately when I was introduced to the double bass at age 21,” he recalls. “First it got me into Hungarian folk music, then later jazz, and that was followed by a variety of genres (classical music, hip-hop and electronic music, music from Morocco and other parts of Africa, Avant – Garde and free music.)”
1. Dear Johann
3. Morze (for Ágoston Bèla)
Àdàm Mészáros Guitar
Ernö Hock Electric Bass
Andràs Halmos Drums
Kjetil Møster Saxophones & Clarinet
AVAILABLE IN STORES AND ONLINE ON DECEMBER 8, 2014 AND THROUGH RARE NOISE RECORDS ON CD, VINYL AND HI-RES DIGITAL DOWNLOAD.
ABOUT THE LABEL – RareNoiseRecords was founded in late 2008 by two Italians, guitarist/arranger/ producer Eraldo Bernocchi and all-round music nut Giacomo Bruzzo. Located in London, the label was created to present a platform to musicians and listeners alike who think beyond musical boundaries of genre. For further information and to listen please go to www.rarenoiserecords.com