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The Tronosonic Experience: The Shadow Vol. 1 & 2

The Tronosonic Experience are a Norwegian 'punk jazz' least that's what they call themselves. I'm having a hard time describing these guys to be honest. They certainly bring the jazz...I'm not so sure about the punk part of it, but to these ears, prog, hard rock, and avant-garde styles all seem to be present in their music. Hawkwind, Van Der Graaf Generator, Sun Ra, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and King Crimson, just to name a few, pop up in my head while grooving to the music of this eclectic band, but, at the same time, they don't sound like any of these artists. This review is for their two brand new 2022 releases The Shadow Vol. 1 and The Shadow Vol. 2, both of which came out a short time from each other on Apollon Records, and also ironically after the tragic death of their founder and bass player Per Harald Ottesen, who died of cancer recently. Where this leaves the band as of this moment remains to be seen.

As for the music and the albums, I can highly recommend these to anyone looking for something a little bit different that doesn't neatly fit into any tidy categorization. Both albums are roughly 35 minutes long (not sure why they didn't just release this all as one CD?) and are all instrumental, featuring the line-up of Ottesen (bass, lap steel guitar, electronics), Ole Jorgen Bardal (tenor saxophone), Oyvind Nypan (guitar, baritone guitar, electronics and soundscapes), and Jan Inge Nilsen (drums and percussion). I love the heavy use of saxophone here, and Bardal reminds me of a young David Jackson from Van Der Graaf Generator with his thick, husky tones that are as much a lead vehicle as they are providing riffs. Nypan's guitar work is also quite good, jagged and angular (Robert Fripp anyone??), and these two guys go off into charts unknown over the rumbling, tumbling drums and nimble bass of Nilsen & Ottesen. Tracks to look out for include "Golden Comet", "The Last Stand", "The Shadow Of The New Praetorian", "Beehive", and the two part "Sheik".

Is it jazz? Is it punk jazz? Is it prog? Is it fusion? Is it space rock? Is it avant-garde? Well, yes, no, and perhaps all of the above. Bottom line, these two releases from The Tronosonic Experience are well worth your attention, whatever you ultimately decide to call them.

Track Listing
Vol. 1

  1. Sheik Pt. I 5:19
  2. Sheik Pt. II 0:32
  3. The Last Stand 6:24
  4. The Sunwatcher 1:44
  5. Golden Comet 7:28
  6. Totak 8:27
  7. Undertow 0:30

Vol. 2

  1. Undertow (Slight Return) 0:23
  2. The Shadow Of The New Praetorian 12:35
  3. Supernova 3:45
  4. Beehive 8:31
  5. Chiaroscuro 5:50
  6. Dunes 2:59

Added: June 5th 2022
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 842
Language: english

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The Tronosonic Experience: The Shadow Vol. 1 & 2
Posted by Ben Dudai, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-06-06 02:15:14
My Score:

The Tronosonic Experience describe themselves as a Norwegian Punk Jazz band and while I feel that goes part of the way to addressing what they are all about it doesn’t really do them justice. Perhaps “Progressive Jazz Fusion Rock” might be more accurate. Following on from The Tronosonic Experience’s critically acclaimed album The Big Blow, The Shadow pt.2 sees the band once again returning to their deep well of inspiration to deliver another fascinating sonic adventure.

The album opens the tribal ambience of “Undertow (Slight Return)” before quickly moving into the albums longest cut “The Shadow Of The New Praetorian”. The piece begins in a langid meditiave soundscape/free jazz kind of mode and just when you think the band is going to meander it’s way forward from there the guys explode into a very early King Crimson-like riff/progression which is both catchy and heavy sounding with the saxophone, guitar and bass in lock step with each occasionally branching out with some ornamentation. Eventually it melts away into a very tasty acid groove with the rhythm section laying it down with increasing coolness while the space guitar layers itself above it all sending the listener into some transcendental astral traveling funkiness. While the guitar is up front it’s really the fantastic bass lines underneath that propel it forward. Awesome opener. “Supernova” follows and sees the band returning to the meditative vibes with a much more reserved, held back affair. That being said the track does have some nice tension which brings a touch of darkness to your purple ohm. “Beehive” kicks the band back to life again with another cool riff which again borrows from their King crimson love but also has touches of heavier fodder like The Mars Volta. Again the sax and guitar tell the melodic story and again the whole thing is given a huge kick up a notch by the great rhythm section and again especially the bass playing which is just excellent. Moving from restrained simplicity to down and dirty expanded groove lines. There are even tinges of desert rock guitar sounds that add to the overall cool factor. This is followed by the heroin-like “Chiaroscuro” which is dream-like and languid but also very relaxing and contemplative. Here we get some tasty saxophone soloing in the second half of the song which takes the band into Jazz territory. Finally the album wraps up with “Dunes”, a somewhat pointless soundscape piece which seems to achieve nothing and serves as a disappointing way to end an otherwise very enjoyable album.

When reviewing these types of albums I always find myself enjoying the music in the moment but then finding that it doesn’t usually stay with me for any length of time or call me back to it. The memorable factor just isn’t there and unfortunately The Shadow pt.2 falls into this category. The Shadow pt.2 is very enjoyable though and if I do remember to play it again I’m certain to enjoy it again. I’m sure that fans of Fusion Jazz and Progressive Rock will also feel the same way. A great listen in the moment but it’s not about to set the world on fire.

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