Krokofant II

RCD 2177CD RCD 2177CD

This young, semi-improvising power trio -- Tom Hasslan (guitars), Axel Skalstad (drums), and Jørgen Mathisen (saxophone) -- typify a new and invigorating movement currently sweeping across the Nordic region: hard boiled improvisation and strong instrumental personalities bolted onto rock beats and driving rhythms. Equally powerful on record and on stage, Krokofant pull no punches, sounding like some unholy three-way marriage of early '70s jazz rock (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Terje Rypdal, Ray Russell), the sprawling progressive odysseys of King Crimson and Henry Cow, and the fierce heat of Peter Brötzmann's harsh free jazz ensembles. If their 2014 self-titled debut (RCD 2154CD/RLP 3154LP) was a fresh breath of youthful energy, this follow-up shows a trio very confident in their abilities. They ally a strong discipline with wide, exploratory arcs; Hasslan's agile guitar and Mathisen's snaking sax are always fighting to break out, just held in check by Skalstad's tough, rhythmic tumble. Only 22 years old at the time of this release, the young drummer is something of a sensation, combining pure energy with superior technical skills. This is a trio in which you can hear the individuals pushing each other to new heights while keeping the solid group foundation intact. Originally performing as a guitar-and-drums duo, Hasslan and Skalstad met at a guitar shop in Kongsberg, a town in southern Norway famous for its annual jazz festival, where they developed a strong bond playing free music together. In 2012 they hooked up with Mathisen, who already had a reputation in musical circles after playing in groups like The Core and Zanussi Five. When the duo eventually decided to try to capture their unruly sound at the proudly analog Engfelt & Forsgren Studio in Oslo, they invited Mathisen to join them, and the group was properly born during the sessions that led to their self-titled debut. This studio, with Christian Engfelt in charge of recording and mixing, has proved perfect for capturing the essence of a group like Krokofant, so it was only natural that they went back for the second album. Real musicians captured playing together in real time -- you simply can't beat that when it comes to this kind of music!