When Martin Rude and Jakob Skøtt got together to make their collaborative LP the two Danish musicians could have gone in any direction. They worked together in the band Sun River(along with Jonas Munk), and both have established themselves as versatile players. What they came up with is an album filled with subtle sonic manipulations and modal vibes that sound like an interplanetary jazz duo. Upright bass locks into deft drumming that borders on almost Latin grooves, while swirling electronics give the album an air of otherworldly dimensions. It’s truly unlike anything you’ve heard.
Martin Rude & Jakob Skøtt Duo have presented us with The Discipline of Assent, a nine-track LP filled with these interplanetary vibes both groove-heavy and rooted in sonic exploration. Heady vibes for a dystopian western. Dusty songs for desert road trips.
There’s a balance on The Discipline of Assent. Rude and Skøtt have made a record built on an organic foundation of acoustic instruments, while peppering these sparse musical skeletons with otherworldly atmosphere courtesy of synthesizers. Listening to it, you get the vibe of mid-60s Coltrane, Davis, and Sun Ra. There’s both elegance and untethered creativity. This is a jazz album for people that can’t lock into jazz.
Something like “Flails & Strands” feels as if it’s on the verge of coming off the rails at any second. It’s carried by a kinetic drum beat and an acoustic bass line that brings to mind the great Charles Mingus. Mingus was an artist that towed the line between mainstream and underground. He worked in two different musical worlds, and was never afraid to reach beyond expectations. This is the spirit Martin Rude & Jakob Skøtt are summoning. “A New Arrival” follows with a more nuanced approach. Subtle electronics come in and out of view to elevate the grounded drum and bass groove. “Aurelius Dye” is a jangly, dusty track. It evokes visions of the desert and vast landscapes. The looseness of Skøtt’s drums and Rude’s guitar work well to put you in another world. “Setenta y Tres” is wonky in all the right places. This is reminiscent of Jakob Skøtt’s solo work in the drum and electronics interplay.
Elsewhere “The Short Sun” gives the feeling of sandy daydreams and cavernous landscapes. Rude’s guitar work feels impressionistic, painting visuals as you listen. Album closer “Mountain Montage” brings to mind Ry Cooder with its jangly, bluesy guitar and almost free form percussion. A steady pulse and groove rise as the song progresses. The spirit of this collaboration is clear and present in this slow burn of a closer.
The Discipline of Assent is a subtle work of many sonic pleasures. Martin Rude & Jakob Skøtt Duo have summoned the creative spirits of Coltrane, Davis, Mingus, and Sun Ra while also bending those jazz vibes into something quite ethereal, and at times cosmic. It’s a record that reveals more with each deep dive into it’s sonic world.
8.4 out of 10
‘The Discipline of Assent’ is out this Friday, August 7th. Buy it here.