Nils Petter Molvaer: Cruel Attitude


Cruel Altitude


Nils Petter Molvaer (trumpet, voice)


Hamada (Sula Records 602527020419)

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Nils Petter Molvaer (trumpet, voice),

Audun Erlien (bass), Audun Kleive (drums), Eivind Aarset (guitar)


Composed by Nils Petter Molvaer


Recorded: No information given (CD released in 2009)


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

Molvaer is generally credited for helping to popularize the whole “nu jazz” thing in the late nineties and squarely put his native Norway on the map as an epicenter for this pastiche of jazz, house, ambient and electronica. When he tosses African and Middle Eastern rhythms into his mélange, his music sounds so close to Jon Hassell that I wonder what the fuss is all about. It’s not long after I begin to think he’s a copycat before Molvaer asserts his originality and lives up to his reputation.

“Cruel Altitude” is precisely one of those songs. He starts off with his lonely-sounding horn played over ambient synth washes for over two minutes. But Kleive’s elongated fills crashes in, Aarset heavy metal guitar follows, and the song transforms into clamorous, rowdy rock-jazz by way of late-period King Crimson. From there, it’s a series of formidable riffs over which Molvaer’s electronically altered trumpet blurts out a few Arabic tones. By the time the song takes a gradual descent into its soft landing, the band sounds spent.

The headbanging “Cruel Altitude” is a nu jazz song that sounds best with the volume turned way up with your index and pinkie fingers pointed skyward.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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