CD Review: Eyes of a Blue Dog - Rise

Eyes of a Blue Dog - Rise
(Babel BDV12111. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Although what might be termed the ‘default setting’ of the trio Eyes of a Blue Dog is In a Silent Way-mode Miles Davis stirred into what the accompanying publicity calls ‘contemporary Norwegian avant-jazztronica’, there are also echoes, in their carefully constructed musical soundscapes, of forerunners as various as Boards of Canada and another canine-related Davis homage band, Dog Soup, and in the confiding intimacy of vocalist Elisabeth Nygård, of Marble Index-era Nico, Joanna Newsom and – Nygård’s chief inspiration – Sidsel Endresen.

The resultant music, whether Rory Simmons’s trumpet is in spearing, skittering or jazzily chattering mode, is always arresting, Terje Evensen’s thunderous drums and extraordinary array of electronic sounds ensuring that – like another contemporary Babel band, Barbacana – Eyes of a Blue Dog might credibly produce music of an alien bar band in a cinematic space opera.

Add Nygård’s consistently natural-sounding, unaffectedly confiding ringing purity, and Rise becomes, by turns, ultra-sophisticated pop à la Björk or the coolest contemporary jazz à la Spin Marvel and covers a number of bases in between, so that when – as in ‘Knee’ – Evensen plays straightforward jazz drums under Simmon’s open trumpet, the sudden reversion to convention is almost shocking.

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