(Tutl, 2002)

Lossingarmenn plays jazz, but don't look here for straight-ahead bebop or tasteful reworkings of standards. This is the sort of experimental jazz that fills the label ECM's roster and, by the sound of it, the members of Lossingarmenn have plenty of Bill Frisell albums lying around the house. Not that this is a problem for this particular reviewer; I'll confess to being a Frisell fan, and that includes his "skronk" albums, which drive most people out of the room.

Skronk is basically noise as music, and there's some of that on Lossingarmenn's self-titled debut album. But there are also more lyrical interludes as well as some rock-flavored pieces that groove.

Lossingarmenn is Bui Egason Dam and Leivur Thomsen on electric and acoustic guitars, Hallur Johannessen on electric bass and Rogvi a Rogvu on percussion. Guest Eivor Palsdottir adds vocals to a few tracks. Dam is credited as the composer of most pieces. One track, "Hjalp Oss Kristus Gudsson," is a traditional Faroese hymn reworked so that it sounds foreboding and eerie.

The opening track "Lossingargroove" is an inviting beginning, a mellow yet funky cut that introduces Lossingarmenn's combination of acoustic and electric guitars over the rhythm section of electric bass and drum kit. "Kontri," the second track, starts with a riff any southern rock band would be happy to filch, but then heads off to less charted territory. "Blida Var" is a lazy acoustic guitar piece (with faint percussion in the background) that is a cross between country blues and classical guitar. The mayhem really starts with "Ellivu" -- confirmed fans of avant-garde jazz may enjoy it while other listeners will find it a piece of noisy noodling to be skipped. "Um Tu Ikki..." (the whole title is 17 words long) is, by contrast, a rock jam. Palsdottir appears on "Solareygad," singing like a post-modern chanteuse. The whole album is 11 tracks and an hour long.

Lossingarmenn creates a varied sonic landscape on this album, sometimes understated, sometimes cacophonous, sometimes funky. Fans of Bill Frisell and avant-garde jazz are advised to try Lossingarmenn, while those who prefer safer listening should dip into this album with caution, if at all. I know I will be looking forward to the group's next recording.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 18 September 2004

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