I know, so the first question you may have asked yourself is “Who is Fra Det Onde?”. The second is more than likely “Who is this legendary Emil Nikolaisen?” I try to keep up with all the good stuff musically, but it can be daunting. And when the good stuff originates in Europe it becomes even harder for me. Good thing we have El Paraiso Records here to highlight this whole other universe of forward-thinking music that’s steeped in all the things I’ve come to truly love and cherish as a man in my middle age, teetering on midlife crisis.
Fra Det Onde is a Norwegian three-piece comprised of legendary musicians firmly embedded in the jazz/experimental/freeform music scene that tow the line between Electric Miles and the trippier work of Jack DeJohnette’s solo output. Here’s El Paraiso with the deets:
Drummer Olaf Olsen, all hippie hair and broad smiles, from renowned prog-ensemble Bigbang. Rickenbacker bass plough Rune Nergaard is a part of Exoterm, with Nels Cline and Jim Black. Trumpeter Erik Kimestad Pedersen, from the southern tip of Norway, has turned Danish and stirred a wave in the Copenhagen jazz scene.
So now we come to Emil Nikolaisen. It seems that Nikolaisen is a sonic wizard. An engineering magician that turns a solid recording session into an otherworldly sound excursion. Engineering and mixing like a Ken Kesey-version of Jack Joseph Puig or Teo Macero, Nikolaisen takes the opportunity to engineer and mix an artist in a way that transforms and transcends the typical into the mystical. Again, here’s El Paraiso:
Adding to the mystery is the clear presence of elusive noise-guru Emil Nikolaisen of Serena Maneesh behind the mixing console, and on the occasional Farfisa. Like a Teo Macero in space, Nikolaisen’s singular mixing style adds a crucial signature to the album, pushing the limits of sonic exploration even further. Nikolaisen is a full force of nature at work, making the ghosts appear through his tubes and oscillators. You can hear their eerie howls throughout the album, like specters from other times, other places trapped behind and beyond the tapestry of music.
Listening to first track “From” I’m completely blown away. Afro-cuban rhythms intermingle with trumpet and electric-fusion bass that gives us the impression that Dizzy Gillespie time traveled from 1961 to New York City, 1972. He proceeds to blow the socks off of the Bitches Brew crew as Teo Macero drops another hit of acid with his Espresso and turns knobs and bends faders like a Gandolf peaking.
There’s chaos here, but it’s a very well-maintained one. The key here is the rhythm section. It’s tight, bulletproof, and like Bane after a hit of Venom. Meaning nothing will knock it off its feet. This is some of the most exciting spaced-out jazz I’ve heard since last year’s Chicago Odense Ensemble.
I’m extremely excited about Fra Det Onde, featuring Legendary Emil Nikolaisen. In a year of letdowns, fear, and the unknown, Fra Det Onde gives me hope for a bright and far out future.
Listen to “From” below. Fra Det Onde, Feat. The Legendary Emil Nikolaisen drops 10/2/20. Preorder it here.