Label|: Hubro Music.
The Moskus story began at the prestigious Trondheim Conservatory of Music, in Norway, in 2011. That was when bassist Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson first met drummer Hans Hulbækmo and pianist Anja Lauvdal and decided to form a new group which they called Moskus. Little did they realise at that first meeting, that Moskus would become the most innovative groups of their generation.
Seven years later, and Moskus have just released their fourth album Mirakler on Hubro Music. Mirakler is the latest ambitious and groundbreaking genre-melting album from Moskus. They’ve come a long way since that first meeting at the Trondheim Conservatory of Music,
As 2012 dawned the three members of Atlantis Grammofon Studio, Stockholm, to record their debut album Salmesykkel. Between the ‘3rd’ and ‘5th’ of January 2012
Moskus recorded ten tracks with producer Andreas Meland. When the recording was complete, Salmesykkel was mixed at Redroom Studio, Trondheim April between the ‘19th’ and ’21st’ April 2012, Salmesykkel was mastered at Audio Virus Lab, during May 2012. Now Moskus was ready to release their debut album.
Later in 2012, pioneering jazz trio, Moskus, released their debut album, Salmesykkel on Hubro Music. It was released to widespread critical acclaim, and hailed as a groundbreaking debut. And so it proved to be.
When the shortlist for the Norwegian music Spellemannspris were announced in 2013, Moskus had been nominated twice for the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy Award. Moskus were nominated in two categories, the highly prized best jazz album and best new act. For the three members of Moskus, this was the perfect start to their recording career. Since then, Moskus have been winning friends and influencing people throughout Europe and North America.
Just like several generations of bands, Moskus embarked on a gruelling touring schedule and at first, played ed clubs and some of the Norway’s biggest festivals. After that, Moskus headed much further afield.
By 2014, much of Europe had been introduced to Moskus’ unique and groundbreaking brand of Nordic jazz. Everywhere from Britain, Germany, Poland and Portugal, have been won over by Moskus’ music. By then, audiences had realised that Moskus were the future of jazz.
Having conquered Europe with their music, Moskus headed to North America. Canada was just the latest country to embrace Moskus’ music. Their gruelling touring scheduled had paid off.
By the summer of 2013, Moskus’ reputation had spread far beyond Norway and they were perceived as one of the most exciting and pioneering jazz groups in Europe. This was the perfect time for to Moskus complete their sophomore album Mestertyven.
For their debut album Salmesykke, Moskus had recorded the album at Stockholm’s famous Atlantis Grammofon Studio. When the time came to record their sophomore album, Moskus decided to try a new approach to recording.
Gone was the venerable surroundings of Atlantis Grammofon Studio. Its replacements was the Risør Church which became a de facto recording studio in March 2013, and five months later when the album was completed in August 2013. The only problem with the Risør Church was that it have same standard of equipment.
One of Atlantis Grammofon Studio’s most important pieces of equipment is the grand piano. Moskus used on their debut album Salmesykkel. Its unmistakable sound played an important part in the sound and success of Salmesykkel. However, their makeshift studio didn’t come complete with a grand piano. Moskus found themselves swapping a grand piano for an upright piano which became part of the new sound they showcased on Mestertyven.
Whereas the music on Moskus’ debut album Salmesykkel was well rehearsed, the music on Mestertyven was new and untried. Moskus hadn’t spent ages honing and tightening the tracks. This was deliberate.
As the sessions began, Moskus pressed record. Every single idea was recorded. This made sense. There was no chance that a moment of genius would be missed. Songs were recorded from their genesis to fruition. Songs evolved on the tapes. Eventually, Moskus were left with a pile of tapes. What they had to do was then sift through the tapes. Gradually, eleven songs took shape. Some ideas and experiments were kept, others discarded. The result was Mestertyven, Moskus’ much-anticipated sophomore album.
When Mestertyven was released in May 2014, it was to the same critical acclaim as their debut album. Critics used words like unique, melodic, playful and intimate. However, Mestertyven was also dramatic, ethereal, wistful and innovative. Mestertyven featured a group who were determined to continually reinvent their music, and push musical boundaries. They continue to do so, on their third album Ulv Ulv.
Following the release of Mestertyven, Moskus have continued their hectic touring schedule and toured North America and Europe. Then in late 2014, Moskus got the opportunity to tour Japan. The only problem was, on their return, Moskus would begin work on their third album Ulv Ulv.
Despite this, Moskus headed to Japan in late 2014, and during the tour, Moskus enjoyed the opportunity to and improvise and play with an inventiveness and freedom. Japanese audiences were able to experience Moskus at their innovative best. Once the tour was over, Moskus returned home and began work on Ulv Ulv.
For their third album Ulv Ulv, Moskus had written eight new tracks. They would also write Den Store Skjønnheten and Borre Borre Gulleple, Slå Vekk with fiddler Nils Økland. He joined Moskus at the Haugesund Billedgalleri.
This to outsiders seemed a strange place to record an album. However, Moskus had played a concert at Haugesund Billedgalleri, and liked the acoustics.An aded bonus for Moskus pianist Anja Lauvdal was that the Haugesund Billedgalleri boasted a vintage Steinway.
Between the ‘2nd’ and ‘4th’ of January 2015, the Haugesund Billedgalleri, in Haugesund was converted into a makeshift studio as Moskus and Andreas Risanger Meland co-produced the album. After three days, Ulv Ulv was completed on 4th January 2015. This left Ulv Ulv to be mixed and mastered by Audun Strype, at his Strype Audio, in the autumn 2015. Once this was complete, Moskus’ thoughts turned to the release of their third album, Ulv Ulv.
Just over six months later, and Moskus’ much anticipated third album Ulv Ulv was released and features the jazz pioneers at their innovative best, as they play with a freedom, inventiveness and intuitiveness that most groups can only dream of.
Moskus continue to push musical boundaries to their limits, and beyond on Ulv Ulv as they combine elements of avant-garde, experimental, free jazz, improv and industrial music. There’s also the influence of Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Albert Ayler and Sun Ra on an album that’s variously atmospheric, beautiful, cinematic, dark, dramatic, elegiac, ethereal, haunting, hypnotic, melodic, mesmeric, otherworldly and ruminative. Ulv Ulv the finest of Moskus’ career, and it wasn’t going to be an easy album to follow.
Buoyed by the success and critical response to their third album Ulv Ulv, Moskus were keen to return to the studio to record the followup. This time, they headed to Studio Paradiso where they planned to spend four days recording between the ‘13th’ and ‘16th’ of October 2016.
By then, Moskus had written nine new tracks and drummer Hans Hulbækmo had written Irsk Setter, Voyager, Min Venns Skaperverk and (“,). When they arrived at the studio, Moskus brought with then ne an eclectic selection of instruments. Drummer and percussionist Hans Hulbækmo played vibes, recorder, electric organ, Casio MT-65 keyboards and saw, while Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson played double bass. Anja Lauvdal switched between a grand and upright piano, MS10 and Yamaha DX100 synths and Hammond Organ during the four day session,.
Recording of the thirteen tracks continued on the ‘20th’ and ‘21st’ February 2017, and Moskus fourth album was almost complete. It was after a day spent at Øveriet on December the ‘14th’ 2017,
Kyrre Laastad who had recorded Mirakler mixed the album and Helge Sten mastered it at Audio Virus Lab, Oslo. Now Mirakler was ready for release.
In late summer of 2018, Moskus released their much-anticipated fourth album Mirakler. Unlike many jazz trios who spend too much time fretting over compositional or musical technique and the purity of the sound they produced Moskus concentrated on creating innovative music.
To do that, the three members of Moskus continued to improvise like they had on Ulv Ulv. This time, they focused on concepts and ideas rather than themes or tunes, and this allowed Moskus to change direction quickly and seamlessly. That was the case on the ruminative and liturgical album opener Anslag, where Anja Lauvdal’s organ takes centre-stage before the rest of Moskus enter and improvise.
It’s all change on the jazz folk Irsk Setter as Anja Lauvdal’s plays a leading role as Moskus seamlessly switch from improvising to a much more formal approach. It’s a similar case on Sang Til C where the piano is augmented by the occasional gasp of an asthmatic harmonium, as the jazz-tinged rhythm section accompany the piano an a captivating soundscape.
Meanwhile, Eventyrdagene has an understated and minimalist, while Moskus deploy an interesting mix of instruments on Voyager. Vibes and pop synths to create what sounds like a fusion of sci-fi sounds and European library music. Ludvig XIV is otherworldly, as jazz and folk combine and Moskus improvise, and later draw inspiration from soundtracks that bring to mind the swinging sixtes.
Moskus march to the beat of Hans Hulbækmo on the mournful Bolero Blues. It gives way to a brief bust of the minimalist Haiku and then the sprightly Spurte Hva Det Var. One of the highlights of Mirakler is the short sketch Min Venns Skaperverk where Moskus are in the groove and flowing as their past and present collide. It’s a similar case on Jailhouse Art Music, while a Yamaha piano and eerie saw prove to be a potent and cinematic combination. However, Moskus save the best until last on the laid-back, jazz-tinged and spiritual sounding En Natt.
It was never going to be easy for Moskus to followup Ulv Ulv, but Mirakler is the perfect way to do so. It finds Moskus at their inventive and innovative best as they improvise, but also focus on themes and tunes. In doing so, the two sides of Moskus emerge on Mirakler which was recently released by Hubro Music.
Many of the tracks on Mirakler are short sketches, and offer the opportunity for invention, and it’s unlikely that Moskus would ever play them the same way twice. In a way,the soundscapes are in a state of flux and Mirakler is a snapshot in time of Moskus.
Moskus’ fourth album Mirakler is a captivating fusion of avant-garde, electronica, experimental, free jazz and improv that references to Krafwerk, Sun Ra and Vangelis. Mirakler is also another ambitious and innovative album from pioneering jazz trio Moskus have fun as they continue their mission to push musical boundaries to their limits in search of sonic nirvana.