Greatness can be found in the most unexpected places. Every time I shop for vinyl on decks.de I take some extra time to look at those other categories. “More Genres” they call it at decks and it truly is a massively diverse collection of music there. I hardly find something there and it’s way too full of stuff that makes me cringe. Like Coldplay albums or the re-release of The Police’s greatest hits. Cringe and shrug.
But it’s also where I found that David Axelrod live album, those Piero Umiliani re-releases and that really excellent Bersarin Quartett album. There’s a lot of Jazz there too, and who would want to miss an Alice Coltrane re-release, right?
This is where I found “The Virtue Of Temperance” and it was a revelation. Not just because it’s such a great album, even more because it made me go to the label’s web page – and from there it was just one surprising discovery after another. El Paraiso Records. My guess is that I will be gradually shopping my way through their back catalogue over the course of the next months.
So, forgive me if I rave about the label first as it’s really worth the excursion. Jakob Skøtt is one of the label founders, playing drums here in this trio and with Martin Rude as a duo, the other founder is Jonas Munk who came to my attention first when he teamed up with Ulrich Schnauss for a few albums. Both Skøtt and Munk are members of a band called Causa Sui, and the label was originally founded as an outlet for this band. And for the founders’ solo work. And then side projects. Oh, and then stuff that is created in the same spirit. Way more than a hundred releases already, and their “Impetus Series” sub label is already celebrating fifty releases with this magnificent album.
First thing I did when I hopped over to their website was listening to Rude and Skøtt’s work as a duo, and it wasn’t much of a surprise that I liked those albums as well. What surprised me a little more is how much I loved the last Causa Sui album “Szabodelico”. Totally different direction, Psych Rock with a heavy dose of Krautrock, but oh so good… definitely the next album on my shopping list if I can get my hands on some vinyl… Go over there as soon as you’re done reading this. You won’t regret it.
It sort of all came together when I went back to listen to “The Virtue Of Temperance” again. As much as this is a Jazz album – the slight Psych Rock feel is part of the mix that clearly contributes to letting this album stand out, even if it’s sort of an underlying, maybe not even intentional aspect. What this album truly showcases is how much magic a great drummer and an equally gifted guitarist/bassist can create. The effortless virtuosity of Jakob Skøtt’s drumming and the warm and elegant precision Martin Rude displays on bass are simply exceptional.
But that’s something that already became evident on their albums as a duo. What makes this one special is the addition of Tamar Osborn on saxophone and flute. As it seems the guys came up with their part of the album over in Denmark and kept sending the work over to the UK to let Osborn apply her magic. If you didn’t know you’d never suspect such a process – this is a very tight unit and I would assume that they had done work together in one room prior to recording the album, there’s just no other way to explain this.
The opener “Infinite Element” is proof already. Rude on double bass, warm and groovy and with just the right amount of propulsion, Skøtt laying out nicely intricate beats, and Osborn riding the wave perfectly. The harmony is unmistakable, even when the trio is letting the piece slide into an interesting level of disintegration, right on the edge of just barely being able to follow the beat.
And they just keep doing this. One great bass line after another, accompanied by a drummer that obviously always keeps his ears and eyes and senses wide, wide open, playing like Siamese twins, and every time it sounds as if Osborn was right there, standing with the two guys, fully immersed in their play, her additions turning her into a Siamese triplet. The title track is another stunning example, again including one of those passages where they artfully stumble into a finale that takes the temperance apart.
Interestingly, the album has its most psychedelic moments when Tamar Osborn switches to flute as on “L’Ombra Blu”. Or rather adds the flute as she applies her talent on both instruments. Several slightly dreamy interludes add to the psychedelic charm of this album, floating and hovering as if carried by a gentle early summer breeze with no one watching, they just seem to happen. “The Blue At The Horizon” takes these excursions to full length, with Rude showing that he is equally gifted when he switches to guitar.
But then it’s back to yet another amazing bass line/drum pattern combination. They just keep delivering, the great ideas never running out and never getting repetitive or unsurprising. “Divided Sun” is just as smart and loose and focused as the first two examples, “Whirlpool Sequence” turns speed and psychedelics up a notch with Wah-Wah pedal support, and the closer “Belonging To The Inbetween” slows it down to a hazy nine minute crawl that wakes up for a bouncy mid-section, electronics swirling right around the in-between.
What a treasure I stumbled over. On decks.de of all places. But that’s what makes it happen, keeping your eyes open, no matter where you are. And at the rate the label is turning out new stuff it looks like I won’t be short of new additions to my collection. Plenty of great stuff.
Release for review:
RUDE SKØTT OSBORN TRIO – THE VIRTUE OF TEMPERANCE – EL PARAISO – EPR065LP
Get this album on the label’s website: Click