REVIEW: Oddarrang at jazzahead! in Bremen

Olavi Louhivuori in Bremen, 2016. Photo: Edition Records

(Showcase at jazzahead! Kulturzentrum Schlachthof, 23rd April 2016. Review by Mary James)

The word Oddarrang sounds like it should be Finnish but in fact it is it not. I was once told by a band member that it stands for Odd Arrangement - just look at the unique composition of the band - guitar, bass guitar, cello, trombone and drums with vocals and electronics. The Schlachthof was the perfect dark venue to stage the vast propulsive sound for which Finnish band Oddarrang is known. Oddarrang is a superstar band comprising Olavi Louhivuori (plays with Tomasz Stańko) on drums and keyboards, Ilmari Pohjola (brother of Verneri) on trombone, Osmo Ikonen on cello and vocals, Sigurdur Rögnvaldsson, guitar and Lasse Lindgren on acoustic bass.

Their sound is a bewitching mix of brooding strong melodies, menacing rock volume, folksong-like wordless vocals and delicate sounds (like dripping ice) still audible above the intensity. And yet they always hint at something spiritual, meditative and melancholy.

At one stage when explosive drummer Louhivuori switched to keyboards I was sure the cymbals sounded of their own accord - but that was an illusion - their sound had been looped. Perhaps that is symptomatic of the spell this band creates with its attention to timbre, and strong visual sense. It was an exciting 30 minutes comprising three new compositions having their first outing and a track from In Cinema, their last album.

And all credit to the soundman, the sixth artist in the band, for mixing a very complex soundscape and setting everything up in the tiny window bands have for soundcheck at Jazzahead.

Mary James, who lives in Gloucestershire, is an artist manager and member of the Jazz Promotion Network. Twitter @maryleamington

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