Live Sounds from an Assured Composer
Playing to what sounds like a rather intimate audience–they’re hardly present here on the recordings–talented experimental composer and instrumentalist Kaada leads his group The Late Bloomers through a wonderfully paced and executed live performance. The recordings are memorable and capture a respectable amount of Kaada’s career to date.
Though Kaada’s forté is often movie soundtracks or music inspired by cinema, many of these cuts stand all on their own as excellent compositions. Opening the set with the at turns lush and tick-tock-y “From Here on It Got Rough,” Kaada and his players Hanne Rekdal, Sigrun Tara Øverland, Jane Helen Johansen, Guro Skumsnes Moe, Renate Engevold, Børge Fjordheim and Børre Mølstad are all in confident voice. Compositions are all playful in a certain sense, where an awkward groove might lead to a swirling, string-heavy expanse and then back to a jittery percussion section, jetting the performance into a wholly different direction. These adventurous transfers are handled seamlessly, however, and seldom meander. The result is a pleasant and ideal balance, as each individual performance, as well as the performance as a whole, does well not to rush—drawing out tension and emotion without relying on overlong, droning passages.
In this way, some of the moods and dynamics pursued recall Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits, and not only is that meant in terms of the instrumentation, but also in the musical arrangement—as in the choice to place a soggy brass section beside ethereal, swooning vocals in “Truth Serum.” Decisions like these take bravery to attempt live, but Kaada is sublimely game throughout. Add in some neo-classical passages and some hectic polyrhythmic sections, and you got an intriguing performance on your hands, live or else.
Though Kaada ultimately hangs his hat on moody instrumental compositions, parts of the performance featuring vocals show no less flair. The gloomy “Hungarian Kiss” shows a nice eastern intonation over bellowing cross-talking vocals, while “Celibate” displays the charm inherent to the singer’s voice. To be sure, instrumentation is the star of the show throughout, but these tracks supply a little extra for his fans and the performance itself, supplying another dimension to the proceedings.
In Concert serves as both a solid retrospective for those unfamiliar, as well as a crisp live document for Kaada fans, culling tracks from several different periods of his career and delivering them with a seamless vibrancy found at the center of every track. Kaada’s catalog is already unique, but this live recording serves to reaffirm the “world” his music encompasses, while delivering some stunning performances by a prime composer and his ensemble.