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Danske Nætter (4/4) • FRA DET ONDE feat. EMIL NIKOLAISEN live at Musikhuset Dexter, Odense (Nov 19th 2021)


Fra Det Onde feat. Emil Nikolaisen


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After the relief of finally having figured out how the shower in my bathroom worked and eating those under-spiced scrambled eggs for the last time (hotel breakfasts are among the things which really suffer when you have diabetes), the day had a couple of unpleasant surprises in store for me. After checking out as late as possible I was on the middle of my over 20 minutes walk to the car (free parking is hard to find in Århus), when the holder of my shoulder strap broke and my travel bag smashed to the ground. After I got everything into my car I took a look at the near sailing harbour, where I discovered that the sole of my - not very old! - shoe was beginning to detach. Fuck.

Well, at least I was going to make a little detour and visit another Danish city anyway. So why not buy a couple of new shoes?

I think it was on Tuesday, between my personal church secession, buying provisions and packing, when I was first becoming aware of the Norwegian jazz trio Fra Det Onde having a gig in Odense. And since I absolutely love their debut EP, the idea of maybe adding this as another extra stop, didn't leave my head from then on. It meant maybe an hour of driving more, but then it was announced that the show was for free and it became an absolute no-brainer to go there.

And as soon as I arrived in Odense, karma was on my side again. If you just google for "free parking odense" you are shown one very specific street with maybe a dozen free parking lots at the wayside. I didn't even get there, because the last crossing was blocked by a construction site, but just before it there were a couple of free spaces, too. Not bad for the centre of the fourth biggest city of Denmark (Århus being the second biggest by the way).


Unfortunately I missed almost all of the good daylight for taking photographs, while I was driving, shoe-shopping and dining, so this was yet another day on which I didn't should many frames on film at all. So my main concern was just to take it easy and relax, until my mind and body were ready for the final show of this diversified week.

The Musikhuset Dexter is a cozy cool blues and jazz club, which didn't seem to even have a stage - until the middle wall of the room was folded together and a lot more little round tables plus the platform for the musicians appeared.
I took a front-row seat and noticed that the setup alone told you that this show was going to be a little different. Not only the drumkit was unorthodox and showcased drummer Olaf Olsen's complete trust in his cymbal stands, but what madman staples his bass gear like an upside-down pyramid?
Also a Rickenbacker bass isn't exactly the most common association which comes up when you think about jazz.

But when the show, which was split into two seperate sets with an intermission, started, it very quickly became undeniable, that there's a lot more insanity going on with Fra Det Onde than the eye can see.

Imagine an extremely free free jazz trio - drums, electric bass and trumpet, which most of time plays beyond the edge of what most people would perceive as "still music" and is mainly held together by very pronounced bass lines, while the drums just wildly swoosh around them (there's not much leading kick, which the miniature bass drum could provide anyway) and the trumpet floats and storms above both of them.

But now also imagine that those guys are just the marionettes of Emil Nikolaisen, the puppet master who live-mixes everything on stage, while manipulating the signals heavily and also adding synths here and there. It was a brilliant unhinged mess!
The long jams had moments of drone, sections of complete tohubohu, but also of unexpected smooth clarity. It was complete commitment to a creative headspace beyond any conventions, performed in a breathtaking, stunning and extremely entertaining matter.

It felt a little like applying the whole process of creating Miles Davis' electric phase albums in the mixing room to a live situation. And it also occured to me that Anna von Hausswolff's pipe organ show on Wednesday had an astonishingly similar concept, also with three players, whose signals were altered by a fourth man. What a specific coincidence!

Don't let my words be diminished by the fact that my live music year only started in September, but yes - Fra Det Onde played my favorite show of the year!

After this whirlwind the ride home was a good occasion to slow down with some funeral doom. I so seldom sit in the car long enough to listen to the whole Bell Witch "Mirror Reaper" song / album.
Afterwards I crossed the border with Clipping., refueled with Emma Ruth Rundle, and that was it. My four shows in a row November vacation. Because why not?

Tak Danmark!

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