Rissanen’s compositions always have a sense of purpose and destination – even if the journey they take can lead some beguiling side-roads and slightly disorienting changes of scenery.

Edition EDN1232

Aki Rissanen: keyboards and piano; Verneri Pohjola: trumpet; Robert Ikiz: drums

Recorded March 26-28, 2023 by Mikko Raita at Studio Kekkonen, Helsinki, Finland

Given Pohjola’s ability to burst into a session and steal the scene from anyone around him with his always fascinating trumpet playing, it is easy to miss the compelling performance of Ikiz and the ways in which Rissanen’s keyboards propel these complex compositions.

My first couple of listens to this were in my car on the journeys to and from work. The trumpet drew my attention and carried the ambience of the album on these initial encounters. It was only in quieter surroundings at home that I fully appreciated the interplay between bass grooves and exuberant drumming that enervate the tunes.

Rissanen, I am guessing, is playing several keyboards and shifting effortlessly between the driving bass, sonic texturing and piano soloing. Of the eleven compositions, eight are from Rissanen, with three collaborative pieces.

Rissanen’s aim in his compositions was to capture change as a process of renewing and letting go, as well as the ways in which new technologies are creating new versions of reality or threatening our current versions of what is real. Cleverly the music evokes both of these impressions.

For the latter, there is sense in which the echoes of deep space (or, perhaps, Virtual Reality) rush around the players, with pulsing wooshes of electronica creating shadows across sophisticated drum patterns, shimmering basslines and the effortless soloing of trumpet and piano.

On ‘Quantum Ballad’, Rissanen’s piano solo gently moves into a lush romanticism that is picked up by his synth and then elaborated by the simple melodic lines of the trumpet that spiral into echoing layers of reverb, echo and further synth.

For the former, the styles shift from a bouncing funk to a tranquil ambient, from the complexities of post-bop piano to the lush tenderness of Scandinavian folk. Nowhere does the music settle on a single style but is constantly shifting its focus. But neither does this focus blur or become distorted.

Rissanen’s compositions always have a sense of purpose and destination – even if the journey they take can lead some beguiling side-roads and slightly disorienting changes of scenery.