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To Iceland! To Iceland! - Antelodic
ABC Jazz is excited to announce the release of To Iceland, To Iceland!, the new album by Antelodic.
Antelodic is an instrumental chamber jazz trio featuring the unusual combination of guitar with two saxophones. The woodwinds - Gideon Brazil (tenor saxophone) and Monty Mackenzie (alto saxophone) - often perform the role of rhythm section, allowing the guitar (Robbie Melville, winner of the Instrumental Category of the 2018 International Songwriting Competition) to become the melodic voice.
Formed in 2012, the trio have developed a highly nuanced approach to their creative practice that allows them to experiment in the moment while maintaining a unified ensemble sound. The music combines meticulously arranged, densely notated compositions with moments of improvisation and sound sculpting, reaching beyond the traditions of both classical and jazz to create a style very much of its own.
Individually, the musicians have worked with artists as diverse as Gotye, Krystle Warren, Shane Howard, Vince Jones, Orchestra Victoria, Tim Rogers and Stephen Magnusson, and collectively they have worked for over 17 years in Melville’s band cleverhorse. Antelodic performed at the 2018 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, Inverloch Jazz Festival, throughout regional Victoria and has recently returned from performances in the UK.
Following on from their debut album Quiet Sufficient in 2017, the trio headed into ABC Melbourne’s Studio 345 in the closing weeks of 2018 to record To Iceland! To Iceland!. A considered, mature,
honest and deeply personal collection of Melville’s compositions, To Iceland! To Iceland! celebrates life, and honours those we have lost along the way.
“There was a great deal of synchronicity involved in the development of this album,” says Melville. “On the day I wrote the track To Iceland!, I went to the music shop I worked in and heard some music playing over the stereo system. It was a haunting, slow choral piece, and caught my ear straight away. It turned out to be an Icelandic hymn called Heyr Himna Smiður. I found it so moving that I instantly decided to arrange it for Antelodic. When I returned home later, my wife opened the door holding a book of the Icelandic Sagas which she had just bought for me that day, thinking I might find them interesting. I couldn’t ignore all of those signs.
“As I composed the rest of the album, I imagined sailing to Iceland across the seas, framed as a metaphorical journey – impossibly arduous, boundless and unending. We have spent so much time in Antelodic striving for better performances, better arrangements, a deeper connection with each other and with audiences. We never get to a point where we’re completely satisfied, but that’s positive. It means we’re still learning, improving and searching, still on the journey.”
Several pieces on the album, including the title track, are anagrams of the trio’s name. The album’s opening anthem, No Dialect, and two other short pieces, No Citadel and No Idle Act are three distinct arrangements of the same song. The Last Word and Dog Days were written to honour the memory of Melville’s friend Michael Dragwidge, who died suddenly at the end of 2017.
The joyful Djamba Germaine uses several overdubs to augment the usual sound of the trio, adding electric guitars and baritone saxophone. Sombrero Fallout is an ethereal piece inspired by a Richard Brautigan novel, constantly shifting between major and minor harmony.
On To Iceland! Melville swaps the classical guitar for a high-tuned steel string, resulting in some surprising voicings. Heyr Himna Smiður makes use of an electric baritone guitar to create a darker texture, while the woodwinds mimic the vocal phrases of the hymn’s lyrics, written by warrior chieftain Kolbeinn Tumason on his deathbed in 1208.
Tango in Pusan was written on a balcony in South Korea, drunk on gin one summer afternoon, and features the playful group interaction that is more prevalent in their recent live shows. Gone is a gentle memorial to Melville’s grandmother. The pensive mood of Blue Tongue Bend, 1988 is a nostalgic look back at Melville’s youth.
1. No Dialect 2’01
2. The Last Word 6’21
3. Djamba Germaine 4’50
4. Sombrero Fallout 4’26
5. To Iceland 1’24
6. Heyr Himna Smiður 5’55
7. Tango In Pusan 4’23
8. Dog Days 6’02
9. Gone 4’00
10. No Citadel 2’01
11. Blue Tongue Bend, 1988 5’28
12. No Idle Act 0’59
Robbie Melville guitars
Gideon Brazil tenor & baritone saxophone
Monty Mackenzie alto saxophone