Saxophonist Hakon Kornstad has enjoyed critical praise not only for his performance technique and emotional intelligence, but also for his willingness to experiment in a wide range of different expressive moods. Combining soundscapes and percussive beats and layers with a melodic sensibility, there's always been a sense of awe when listening to his recordings. In his newest offering, Dwell Time (Jazzland, 2009), we are again presented with his well-honed musicality, but this time the performances are all his own, in a scaled-down setting. It is a solo effort in every sense of the word.
In eight pieces we are offered a variety of expressions. From Still One, which seems to convey a reflective solitude, to the cool hipness of Oslo and the aptly titled Noir, Kornstad astounds us with his ability to masterfully grasp a spectrum of emotional output through his tenor sax, bass sax, flutonette, flute, in addition to his live looping. Recorded in the Sofienberg Church in Oslo, the album is produced by Kornstad as well.
"When I recorded Single Engine in 2007, I was eager to show variety," Kornstad states. "With Dwell Time it's different. I simply wanted to get into one mood, dwell on it, and hit the record button. Insert the expression 'free improvisation' here if you like: the music was created there and then, and without overdubbing or serious editing. The Sofienberg Church in Oslo provides some excellent and inspiring acoustics, and this album is the result of a couple of nights there in January, followed by a serious cull of many of the little darlings. Enjoy the survived ones here."
Known also for his critically-praised work with such concepts and other artists as Wibutee, Bugge Wesseltoft, Sidsel Endresen, Eivind Aarset, Havard Wiik, Ingebrigt Haker flaten and Anja Garbarek, his numerous recordings have consistently been recognized for his masterful musicianship. Dwell Time follows up 2007's first solo effort of Single Engine (Jazzland), and after that album's warm reception he now sets upon a new path in a more measured musical landscape.
Atmospheric and at times romantically haunting, Dwell Time requires the listener to enter an almost meditative state in which Kornstad's tonalities begin to paint their own dimension. It is a step into contemplation, where the aggressiveness of past musical ventures has been tempered with a solid maturity. Spend some time with Kornstad's music, and you'll understand why.