Food: Mercurial Balm (2012)
In contrast to their previous album, a significant point of departure on Mercurial Balm is the overall absence of trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer who appears only on one track. Molværwho succeeded fellow Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksenwas a prevailing influence in Food's outstanding Quiet Inlet (ECM, 2010). That collection took a distinctly jazz oriented turn compared to the experimentation of earlier works such as Molecular Gastronomy (Rune Grammofon, 2008) and Last Supper (Rune Grammofon, 2004). Mercurial Balm doesn't follow the previous formula as this outing includes even more electronic contributors in the dual roles of alternating guitarists Christian Fennesz and Eivind Aarset.
Despite the ongoing changes in Food's personnel, the music remains verdant and animated with Ballamy's role more frequently emphasized through pronounced melodic lines that counter Strønen's layers of pulsation and ethereal grooves. Nowhere is the oxymoronic album title more appropriate than in the transition from "Astral" to "Moonpie." On the former, Strønen initiates a slow build from tribal percussion to a more complex mélange of subdued electronic effects and setting for Ballamy's finest work. "Moonpie" follows with the solebut haunting and inspiredcontribution from Molvær.
Cross-genre compositions work best when they are additive; a tenor sax and synthesizer attaching to each other rather than endlessly competing. Ballamy and Strønen have always done very well at skirting around musical definitions and on Mercurial Balm they continue to succeed at raising consciousness through very transformational pieces.
Track Listing: Nebular; Celestial Food; Ascendant; Phase; Astral; Moonpie; Chanterelle; Mercurial Balm; Magnetosphere; Galactic Roll.
Personnel: Thomas Strønen: drums, electronics; Iain Ballamy: saxophones, electronics; Christian Fennesz: guitar and electronics (1-6, 12); Eivind Aarset: guitar and electronics (7-9); Prakash Sontakke: slide guitar and vocal (7-9); Nils Petter Molvær: trumpet (6).
Record Label: ECM Records