Girls in Airports is known for a particularly atmospheric sound that highlights the strong melodies and simple rhythms. It is instrumental music that has a broad impact and where the essence of jazz, improvisation, is expressed in a new way. As always, Girls in Airports has an infinite openness towards the music – also in terms of genres and formats, where the sound draws inspiration from distant hemispheres, Blue Note jazz and psychedelic electronic landscapes.
The process of creating the material for How It Is Now was radically different than before, with Girls in Airports this time opening the creative process to a select group of fans who were allowed to listen to a total of fifteen tracks before mixing and mastering took place. Based on the listeners’ immediate reactions, Girls in Airports selected the nine most powerful tracks that are now to be found on the album, How It Is Now.
How It Is Now opens with ‘Kabul’, described as “a classically beautiful track”, which in many way it is. It is built around a simple recurring theme with an underlying drum pattern that injects the number with a sense of energy. ‘Bes’ has a contemporary jazz edge driven by the drumming that underpins everything: think electronic dance jazz and you will have some idea as to how this track sounds – until you get to the end where a childlike musical sound turns everything on its head.
‘Curtain Of Life’ is like any track on a classic Blue Note album: theme, a soloist, another soloist, and then a bit of the theme again at the end. This is the first track to have the sax front and centre and it blends beautifully with the piano playing from Mathias Holm. The drumming is relaxed as the number meanders along its 5’20” length. ‘Ember’ is described as being “closer to pop than jazz”, which is an apt description. There is good use of tempo change and the introduction of the heavy organ like section towards the end of the track adds an energy to the number accompanied by a strong drummed beat all of which fades to nothing.
‘Plants’ is a repetition of four minor chords over a repeating drum pattern. There is a melody played out on the keyboard, but it is the repeating chords that dominate the sound until the flute kicks in and changes the number’s dynamics completely. ‘Sachette’ is an atmospheric piece where the tenor sax of Martin Stender leads on the melody and, therefore the storytelling – ‘Sachette’ is named after the unhappy mother in ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ I shall leave it to you to decide what her story is. ‘18’ starts very low in the mix before the sax picks up the main theme, which then quickly develops into something more urgent but controlled. This is another tune built on a cyclical approach with the last 3 minutes of the track taken up by the drums – effective and trance like.
We move from the longest track on the album, ‘18’, to the shortest, ‘Cabin’, which features a pedal organ, piano and sax. This is an intimate sounding piece that sounds like it could/should be developed further. The combination of instruments works very well and Martin Stender plays some delightfully lyrical sax lines. How It Is Now closes with ‘Yield’ featuring Stender on alto sax. The drumming sets the groove over which the jazz sax lines move. The keys bring the tune to close after the sax and drums have dropped out of this atmospheric number.
I started this post with, “Girls in Airports is known for a particularly atmospheric sound that highlights the strong melodies and simple rhythms.” And that kind of sums up this album: it is full of both those things to create atmospheres that change and develop with each track. The electronic soundscapes dominate the overall sound but when the jazz element cuts through, it does so with a style that is something new but not divorced from the jazz tradition.
Musicians: Martin Stender – saxophones, flute, and keys; Mathias Holm – keys, organ, piano; Victor Dybbroe – drums, gongs, and percussive sounds; Anders Vestergaard – drums and cymbals.
Tracklist: 1. Kabul. 2. Bes. 3. Curtain of Life. 4. Ember. 5. Plants. 6. Sachette. 7. 18. 8. Cabin. 9. Yield