Datadyr - 2022 - Woolgathering

(32:44; Is It Jazz? Records)

Track list:
1. Tier 3:15
2. Krystalldans 4:49
3. Woolgathering 3:49
4. Daybreaking 5:53
5. FastUp 4:25
6. Datadyr 6:35
7. Low Hanging Moon 3:58

Odd Erlend Mikkelsen - guitars
Öystein Höynes - bass
Amund Nordström - drums
Ketil Möster - saxophone
Mathias Marstrander - guitars

Norwegian band Datadyr is a fairly recent unit in the Norwegian music scene, with the first traces of activity I can see from the band dating back three years or thereabouts. This summer the band is ready with their debut album "Woolgathering", which is set for an early June release through Karisma Records new sublabel Is It Jazz? Records.

Datadyr is a trio that most certainly fits within the fusion description, as the band does mix their jazz with elements from other types of music in general and in this case with rock as well as what might be described as Americana as the main elements being fused with the jazz impulses explored. Whether or not this also fits within the scopes of progressive rock and jazzrock is perhaps a bit more of an open question, but of so this is a threesome that lands rather safely on the jazz-oriented side of that particular scale.

This is an instrumental album, and this is a production where the lead duties are shared between the instrumentalists but with some given a bit more limelight than others. The guest musicians get to showcase their talents on saxophone and guitar respectively, and band guitarist Mikkelsen also gets many moments to shine with his contributions. Those fond of the bass guitar will find quite a few nifty solo runs from bassist Höynes however, in addition to him being the provider of some expressive and elegant motifs throughout. Drummer Nordström isn't given that many occasions as a dominant solo provider, but he is a fine provider of expressive as well as more subdued and elegant patterns and effects throughout this production.

While jazz is rather far removed from being a specialty of mine, I did get something of a retro vibe from many of the songs here. In part due to the rhythm section being fluent, moving and expressive in a manner that makes me think of more traditional jazz music, but also due to the sound of the main guitar here, with a couple of cuts giving me associations to rock music from the 1960's and possibly also the 1950's in terms of tone and timbre. That we also got some blues-tinged details from the guitar here and there emphasized this impression for me, so at least from someone not all that well versed in jazz this is a production that comes with what some will experience as a retro-oriented sound to it.

Otherwise I took note of some fine and elegant touches by all instrumentalists in the songs with more of a soft and careful character, with some delightful and subtle floating and reverberating guitar details as highlights in terms of delivering those careful, subtle and elegant notes and sounds that many fans of progressive rock tend to find enjoyable and intriguing.

The album as a whole does a fine balancing act between being accessible and careful, featuring harmony and groove-oriented sections but also finding space and room for expressive details as well as expressive passages. For my sake I believe they have struck a fine balance here: This is music that will be regarded as accessible also beyond a jazz-interested audience, but also music expressive enough to be of interest for those with a more purebred interest for instrumental jazz in general and fusion in particular. And while the landscapes explored may not be the most novel ones out there, my impression is that this is a solid production documenting good craftsmanship and an ear for engaging arrangements, clever instrument details and accessible but also expressive and challenging escapades overall.

Datadyr is a trio that takes on the field of fusion music in an accessible and suitably engaging manner, sporting what I'd describe as something of a retro-oriented sound and arguably a bit of a traditional approach. While not breaking any new grounds here the material strikes me as solid and the compositions engaging. A charming and solid debut album that merits a check by those fond of their instrumental jazz and instrumental fusion first and foremost.

Olav "Progmessor" Björnsen, June 2022



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