This is fusion. On a list of collaborations you never knew were eternally meant to be until you hear them, Jamaica’s legendary rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare first joined with Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer for a series of gigs (followed by a full tour) in 2015, combining the Riddim Twins’ hot, laid back dub reggae with Molvaer’s ice cool Scandinavian jazz. Three years later, the album is released.
Opener If I Gave You My Love unfolds with a melancholy worthy of late Miles Davis, as Molvaer trades sparse licks with Eivind Aarset’s violining guitar over an expansive groove, with Dunbar’s trademark delay augmentations built on with some lush synth orchestrations courtesy of the aptly-named Vladislav Delay. The Scandinavian trio step back briefly as Robbie Shakespeare takes lead vocal duties on How Long, coming back in with a force halfway through, leading to beautiful cacophony of White Scarf In The Mist as the quintet’s improvisations seamlessly undulate around the FX-laden waves of Molvaer’s skanking trumpet. The jauntiness of Strange Bright Crowd and Norwegian Sword Fish give way to the rocksteady chant of Was In The Blues and snarling funk of European Express, before launching back into the cosmos with Dream Drifter. The twisted reggaeton of Rock-Stone Noah Bingie and the cheekily titled Politically KKKorrrekkkttt occupy the quarter and semi-final slots, before Neil Five closes the album out with a drumless serenity reminiscent of Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.
Turn out the lights, lie back and enjoy.
Available now on Okeh Records .