CD - Oddrun Lilja – Marble
Jazzland Recordings, 2020
text: Robin Boer
The label 'Jazzland Recordings' (founded by Bugge Wesseltoft in 1996) released a lot of worthwhile albums during the years. This time, we touch upon 'Marble', the debut album of musician/composer Oddrun Lilja. We happened to see Lilja live on stage already last year during the Dutch 'Young Vips Tour', where drummer/composer Sun-Mi Hong and singer/composer Sanne Rambags were highlited as young talents, inviting different befriended musicians to form a touring band. She mainly provided guitar and background vocals, but was given room for a bit of her own music too. Finally, she released her own material on cd now.
Oddrun started being a professional musician when she was nineteen years old, and during the years, she played in many different places of the world, which started to shape the pieces for this first album.
The main personnel of the band 'Lilja' consists (next to Lilja herself) of singer Sanne Rambags (who released her debut 'Sonna' a few months ago), bassist Jo Skaansar and drummer Helge Andreas Norbakken.
The opener 'New York' starts off with powerful percussion in 7/8 and the strong but soothing voice of Sanne Rambags, together with nice jazzy picking effect guitar from Oddrun, and a good solo halfway. Bagamoyo is inspired by Eastern Africa / Tanzania, and features nice acoustic guitar playing and very pleasant harmony vocals by both Rambags and Lilja, blending perfectly together. Moroccon guest musicians on percussion and vocals are featured on 'Casablanca', and this composition features elements from the traditional gnawa song 'Sadiyee.'
'Paris' is another interesting piece, with great melodies and intervals, accordeon and vibraphone. Typically pronounced French words like 'extraordinare' 'd'accord' and 'orange' are spoken under a sensational piano solo by Bugge Wesseltoft (who performs on four pieces) and nice (and familiar) improvisational interpretations by Rambags.
On the Ethiopia inspired 'Mekelle' the main role is for the vocals and acoustic guitar. It's a very strong piece again, with very mysterious, dark melodies and another wonderful performance by Rambags.
One of the highlights is the track 'Tyr', where we hear a spoken poem by the thirteen year old refugee Ghinwa (from the Assomoud Palestinian Music Orchestra, consisting of Libanese refugees). Lilja is capable of many different playing techniques. Her moody solo halfway this piece is quite imposing, to say the least. More odd-meter in 'Kathmandu' where tablas and sitar are blended wonderfully and the very dynamic drumming and melodic, creative basslines are really adding a pleasant versatility in the arrangement.
Another rhythmical success is the shorter piece 'Nairobi' with another nice role for Wesseltoft and fantastic blending of voices by Rambas, Lilja and guest Fadhilee. Fortunately, Indian raga isn't absent on this collection of world music. A jaw-dropping composition and performance we can say for sure, 'Kolkata' starts off slowly with a haunting melody, and after three minutes, a more uptempo, clood clotting section, with Ashraf Sharif Khan on sitar, playing most parts unisono with Lilja, joined by Rambags, who sings in the high registers. Andreas Bratlie is the featured tabla player. After a short introvert section, the piece resumes to it's final part in the form of a great climax. The cycle of songs finishes with the melancholic 'Reykjavik' where we hear Lilja in Icelandic spoken word, joined by her open, acoustic playing, dulcimer, and dreamy, emotional vocals by Sanne Rambags.
Forty-five minutes seem gone in a nod. From the first until the last second, Lilja and her fellow top-musicians never lost only a tiny bit of our attention. The versatility this album has to offer to the listener is nothing more than highly commendable and we are impressed by Lilja's creativeness and ability to bring these ideas to shape, resulting in really good music. Although the very informative booklet clearly describes background information on all the songs and people from the different countries involved, the people are not necessarily centralized. On this album, the main force is the music itself, where it transcends and exceeds beyond the earthly performance. Our conclusion is that the music succeeds in (what we believe to be) performing it's core function: proving to be larger than life and deeply touching the soul. We can thank Oddrun Lilja deeply for that.