Music Downloads: Mats Eilertsen – And Then Comes The Night


at·mos·pher·ic – /ˌatməsˈfirik,ˌatməsˈferik/ Adjective 1.Relating to the atmosphere of the Earth or (occasionally) another planet. “Atmospheric conditions such as fog, snow, rain.” 2. Creating a distinctive mood, typically of romance, mystery, or nostalgia.

This is what comes up if you Google the word and the word was foremost on my mind as I sat in an emotional trance – almost as if I were about to sublimate – listening to Norwegian composer and bassist Mats Eilertsen’s February 2019 ECM release And Then Comes The Night – which follows up on the success of his 2016 outing for the label Rubicon – pelt against the windows of my mind as it played out over the next 47 minutes and 30 seconds.

Layering the album with ethereal, haunting acoustic incantations along with Eilertsen is pianist Harmen Fraanje and drummer Thomas Stronen. I first heard the compositions that make up this album in January, courtesy of ECM, about a month before its official release date and it immediately struck me as a revelatory experience, becoming a listening staple for each new piece of gear that made its way to my home for review.

Each successive listening session with the album saw the trio’s musical abilities hang like dark cumulus-nimbus clouds in the air between the speakers, pregnant with the emotion of a coming acoustic storm. I was hooked and the album has been in heavy rotation ever since I first heard it.

Proposed Utoya memorial.

From the empty warehouse-sized space created by the modal shapes of Fraanje’s opening piano notes on the track “22” Stronen’s drum work and Eilertsen’s upright bass plucking startle forth like deer in the headlights from the black background as if a timbral spotlight was suddenly shone upon them. The opening cut “22” and the final track “22(var.)” were composed after the tragic mass murder on the Norwegian island of Utoya on July 22, 2011 with all the other tracks in between seemingly made as if to bridge the two of these works together – much like the planned memorial (since abandoned) to the victims on Utoya would have seen the island cleaved so acutely itself into two halves. Each successive track is like a spiritual stepping stone leading the listener to the next safe foothold from which to hear this sonic tale unfold and bind the time-separated chords of the opening and closing tracks together.

Cuts like “The Void” see Eilertsen’s bowing brought to the forefront while Fraanje and Stronen seem to exhibit a subtle restraint in their accompianment while “Sirens” plays out the opposite with Eilertsen seeming to hold back and slide in underneath the abstract ministrations of Stronen and Fraanje as they seem to find their way through the dark.

A mesmerizing, avant-garde tour de force of exquisite, emotional tenor with exploratory shadings of tone, timbre and unshakeable pitch, And Then Comes The Night is a darkened sonic landscape for travelling again and again.

This album is now firmly planted as a lifelong favourite for its typical outstanding ECM recording/production, emotional sequencing and cadence of the writing throughout its 10 tracks and showcasing of the heavyweight musical and storytelling abilities of Eilertsen, Fraanje and Stronen.

A must have for anyone serious about being engaged with music.

ECM Records/Verlag
Edition Zeitgenössische Musik GmbH Postfach 600 331 D - 81203 München
49 (0)89 851048