Press about Atomic

Atomic is a rare breed as the artists bridge technical expertise with densely layered pieces that gracefully and quite entertainingly, combine heady arrangements and cunning theme building activities with hearty improvisational settings. Yet the program is not overly clinical or austere, equating to a few rewarding standout factors that help elevate Lucidity to a top-shelf product.

Matt Marshall / All About Jazz about Atomic in Cleveland Feb 2015
Anchored by points of leaving and return, Atomic’s music throughout the evening was a richly tangled, frenetic cord that razzled listeners with both its freedom and cohesion. No icy intellectualism this, the boys from Norway and Sweden attacked the Cleveland night with a jazz as likely to kick in your teeth as stroke your brain. “A McGuffin’s Tale” of sorts, as one of their latest compositions would have it—the journey, not some mysterious objective, being the thrilling part.

Review Atomic en Concierto at El Intruso
El quinteto escandinavo herederos en sus febriles inicios de la vanguardia del free jazz clásico y también del centroeuropeo, pasó por el Jamboree de Barcelona el pasado 26 de abril para presentar su nuevo disco There Is a Hole In a Mountain. (…)

Empuje colectivo, precisión instantánea, melodías quebradas y tensión bajo control, como siempre pero distinta, la energía y la capacidad de  sorpresa de Atomic se mantienen intactas en concierto.(…)

Adiciones, repeticiones, juego subterráneo o en planos, son factores que ayudan a la perfecta organización de este nuevo material, que es menos enfático pero igual de convincente que los anteriores. Ahí estaban los cinco, como si estuvieran calibrando un mecanismo de precisión que llega embalado. Todo en Atomic recuerda a una máquina de la que brota de manera espontánea energía, inteligencia y plasticidad, principios todos ellos de la originalidad.

by Jesús Conzalo,  Full Article here

Press release There’s a Hole in the Mountain
“There’s A Hole In The Mountain”. Atomic venture into their immediately recognisable, yet strangely unfamiliar blends of jazz and contemporary classical influences. With compositional duties led by reedsman Fredrik Ljungkvist and ivory manipulator Håvard Wiik, with the full-on dynamism of the polymorphic rhythm machine of Paal Nilssen-Love and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and the mercurial trumpet styling and lip-melting riffs of Magnus Broo, Atomic only seem to become more and more inventive and daring. Despite each band member’s involvement with “side projects” such as Motif, The Thing, The Deciders, The Young Mothers, and countless others, their musical

well never seems to run dry so much as spill over.

“Accidentals” kicks things off with a manic intensity, quick-shifting gears and performing musical tirespins without breaking a sweat. “Wolf-Cage” by contrast begins sparsely, too tense to be sedate, before breaking into a spiralling march toward a controlled chaos. “Civilon” has a kind of urban cool feel to it, hints of modal jazz and French cigarettes, but as can be expected with Atomic, things take a sharp left turn into a more Ornette Coleman-esque soundscape, before jumping the river into the kind of high energy improvisation more associated with modern free jazz. “There’s a Hole In The Mountain” begins with a feeling of the ghosts of Felix Mendelssohn
and Franz Liszt drinking absinthe in a twilit chalet just as it gets sucked
into the titular hole, and in the roots of the mountain are legions of notes working together in ways that human ear has never heard before. “Available Exits” demonstrates Atomic’s uncanny ability to make a music that sounds spontaneous, almost impossible to even pre-plan in the vaguest form and is perhaps comparable only to Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band for the sheer defiance of standard compositional logic at play. “Labyrinths” steps things down a level, a wandering mixture of expectations aligned with discoveries, the feeling of being lost yet with a definite path to follow, a romantic notion bleeding through walls of nihilistic jazz existentialism.

Throughout the album are breath-taking solo passages (well – why wouldn’t there be? And would they ever be anything other than breath-taking?), moments of manic humour, slyly winking invention, perverse pleasures inlaid with meticulous whirls and whorls, nods and elbow-nudges towards (alleged) influences and gold-plated antecedents, dark pleasures and blinding angst, endless energy and moments of satisfied exhaustion. This latest studio album confirms what fans have known for years: Atomic energy is an endlessly renewable source of pleasure. Hook into the grid today.

 

Daniel Spicer about ‘Here COmes Everybody’ in Jazzwise ****
On their ninth album since 2001, the Scandinavian quintet pulls off a feat that many lesser bands fall to master, creating music that is deeply rooted in tradition but which, nevertheless, manages to sound vital, fresh and relevant at the same time. (…) There’s fine playing throughout: pianist Wiik deals in a form of stately turbulence, simultaneously spiky and controlled; trumpeter Broo has a pleasing way with squalling whinnies and shrieks not unlike some of Taylor Ho Bynum’s more rambunctious eruptions; and drummer Nilssen-Love unfurls plenty of the muscular undertow that’s made him such an international presence. The whole set comes across like a deeply felt, and vigorously alive, love note to 20th century American jazz.

Review “Here comes everybody” in the Independent on Sunday
Like the Lounge Lizards in the 1980s, only better, Norwegian/Swedish quintet Atomic rework the squawks, squeaks and squiggles of classic free jazz to create edgily cool contemporary music. The freely improvised elements are contained within carefully organized structures and the more you listen, the less the castor oil of the squawks puts you off. What’s most striking is how varied the pieces are, and how expertly the group work their acoustic landscape. One for beard-strokers everywhere.
PJ

Press release “Here comes everybody” (Jazzland 2011)
The flow (or riverrun) of Atomic recordings has been a steadfast feature of the Jazzland Recordings catalogue, and Atomic have clearly expressed a will to climb to greater heights, with each new release breaking new ground. Here Comes Everybody, their latest addition, is possibly their most headstrong and challenging ever. The compositional credit for the seven tracks is split 4 to 3 between Håvard Wiik and Fredrik Ljungkvist respectively, although the heart of the collective enterprise is such that the whole sound is pure Atomic from beginning to end, with jagged arrangements, epileptic rhythms and fastswitching harmonies.

The musical complexity is not about bravado as much as it is about a mercurial dancing wit and harmonic carnivalesque energy. Echoing the James Joyce novel, Finnegans Wake, from which the title is derived, HCE (Here Comes Everybody) (Wiik) operates within a musical dream language – this is jazz surrealism, dream theory in Scandinavia. Motifs jostle back and forth, transforming into new shapes and each other, before restating themselves again.

Milano (Ljungkvist) follows suit, chattering, babbling and skipping along, suddenly moving in a gentle plod, and then springing off again into music that bristles with hardcore creative electricity. The music flirts with the deranged outskirts of free jazz, but the tightly defined structures make it seem like impossible architecture, like an Escher drawing, filled with hovering chromatic edifices.

Kreuzberg Variations (Wiik) gently move through sculpted obelisks of sound and melody, oblique, and yet has captivating and evocative qualities, a living proof of the ingenuity of the whole Atomic project. Melodies hop and cross each other, tracing hows, whys, blackbooks, and biotopes and urban topias that are like musical emanations from the eponymous Berlin borough through granular cityscapes across the world, side to side.

Morphemes (Wiik) makes multiple declarations of possible intent, adheres to all and none, and somehow becomes its own self-contained jazz style, referencing everything from rhumba to bebop to free jazz along the way, and gives Paal Nilssen-Love the opportunity to craft a remarkable percussive passage (not a drum solo in any conventional sense).

Panama (Ljungkvist) once again takes the stuttering structures of its predecessors, but this time follows a deconstructed mambo format, briefly sounding as though it might take on that familiar shape at any moment, but instead weaves a heady and exotic boogaloo theme through a North African souk before arriving in a Chicago speakeasy. Fredrik Ljungkvist’s solo flows like smooth bourbon over the club like chatter between restatements of the head theme. He is closely followed by Magnus Broo’s equally mellifluous tones playing into a harmonic variation and lilting paraphrase of the secondary theme.

Upflog (Ljungkvist) feels like the musical equivalent of watching moths fluttering between darkness and a streetlamp beam. Wiik’s moody playing in conjunction with Håker Flaten’s bowed bass, and Broo’s sparkling bursts of trumpet, sometimes brief squeals, intertwined with Ljungkvist’s sax make for an eccentric sonic painting akin to a Joan Miró piece.

Unity Toccata (Wiik) begins in a kind of musical desolation, as though it is emerging from the debris of a post-nuclear holocaust, contemplative of its surroundings as it searches for a way through. The way soon arrives, and Atomic move through the piece like a band of survivors, shaken but undeterred. Each “movement” feels like a discovery rather than a planned stop on a mapped route, as though they have uncovered it in the rubble and detritus. As always, the inimitable driving force of Flaten and Nilssen-Love underpins some fantastic soloing and counterpoints by Broo, Ljungkvist and Wiik.

The playful spirit that deftly weaves through every Atomic performance from Feet Music onwards has constantly evolved, and Here Comes Everybody stands as their greatest achievement to date.  

Atomic at KC Belgie, 10 december 2011, by Guy Peters @ Goddeau.com (in Dutch)
De line-up van Atomic verraadt belachelijk veel talent in één band. De vijf muzikanten zijn stuk voor stuk kleppers die in talloze contexten werkzaam zijn, waarvan er veel amper verwantschap vertonen met die van Atomic. De sound van het Zweeds-Noorse kwintet vastpinnen is intussen ook geen eenvoudige opdracht meer. De traditionele bezetting en spetterende sound doen nu en dan denken aan een geslaagd evenwicht tussen de tweede gouden Blue Note-periode, in wisselwerking met klassieke freejazz, maar de beweging die de band maakte sinds zijn debuut uit 2002 is, zoals het recent verschenen Here Comes Everybody bewees, eentje van steeds toenemende subtiliteit. Nochtans zorgde opener “Milano” meteen voor een oplawaai van jewelste. Het is dan ook een perfecte dwarsdoorsnede van waar de band zoal voor staat, met zowel catchy thema’s en hecht samenspel, als vrijere passages. Pianist Havard Wiik mocht meteen van jetje geven en profileerde zich als misschien wel de grootste ontdekking binnen het Atomic-verhaal. Rietblazer Fredrik Ljungkvist (tenor- en baritonsax en klarinet) liet ook meteen horen een indrukwekkend veelzijdig muzikant te zijn, een die vanuit het aangereikte basismateriaal kan vari‘ren, met sprekend gemak de band leidt en een neus heeft voor onverwacht melodische ideeën en harmonische rijkdom. Hij baande zich een weg door vijf composities van Here Comes Everybody en het iets oudere “Green Mill Tilter”, liet duidelijk verstaan de touwtjes in handen te hebben, maar gunde ook de nodige vrijheid aan z’n kompanen. Kreeg trompettist Magnus Broo de kans om z’n sterk geaspireerde speelstijl te laten horen in “Upflog” en kon drummer Paal Nilssen-Love in het titelnummer van de recente plaat uitpakken met z’n speelse versnellingen, vertragingen en rammelende cimbalengeweld, dan was Ljungkvist degene die ervoor zorgde dat “Unity Toccata” in z’n tweede helft, waarvoor hij overschakelde van klarinet naar baritonsax, uitgroeide tot een knetterend, bevlogen hoogtepunt. De muziek van Atomic was bij momenten gespierd en virtuoos, maar werd altijd met zorgvuldigheid gebracht en subtiel uitgewerkt. Weinig bands zijn in staat om in een vingerknip een retestrakke en knallende muilpeer uit te delen, en kiezen toch bewust voor de grotere uitdaging van het uitstel. Atomic zorgde voor het spektakel dat we stiekem de hele tijd verwachtten.

Atomic – Theater Tilters (Vol.1&2) – **** by Tim Sprangers @ Volkskrant (in Dutch)
De vijf leden van het Noors/Zweedse Atomic zijn uitdagend voor zichzelf, elkaar en de luisteraar. Zij ontleden hun instrumenten: zo scheuren, snijden en kraken de snaren van bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten. In de grote vrije ruimten binnen de verder vaak complexe composities wordt geploeterd en geprovoceerd. Wilde roffels van drummer Paal Nilssen-Love prikkelen zijn medemuzikanten. Atomics potpourri is overigens niet makkelijk te verhapstukken. Geworteld in Europese freejazz overdondert het elf jaar oude Atomic met veel bombastisch geweld, gevoegd met grof cement, en ook plotseling opduikende quotes uit het verleden. Een likje cooljazz hier en klodder funk daar. Met deze live dubbel-cd blijft Atomic een van de leukste freejazzbands van Europa.

Atomic – Retrograde – Review by John Kelman @ All About Jazz
Plenty has been written about the intersection – past and present – between members of the Swedish/Norwegian collective Atomic, and Chicago’s Ken Vandermark’s countless projects. Most telling, perhaps, is this simple fact: were Atomic American-based, there’s little doubt it would garner similar accolades from a considerably larger audience unafraid of the kind of fearless experimentation that’s been the quintet’s signature since convening around the turn of the millennium. Retrograde is the group’s fifth release and second three-CD set, following its all-live The Bikini Tapes (Jazzland, 2005). With two discs of new studio material and a very recent (June 2008) live set from Seattle, Atomic continues to mine its unique meeting place of American-centric free jazz, Scandinavian melodies and a personal approach to composition-cued spontaneity.
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Atomic – Happy New Ears! – Review by Eyal Hareuveni @ All About Jazz
The Swedish-Norwegian quintet Atomic was founded five years ago as an antithesis to the “frosty tundra bite of ECM lyricism,” as Atomic’s label, Jazzland, describes Atomic’s raison d’etre. But things seem to have changed on this, their third studio recording, Happy New Ears!, (not including a Ken Vandermark collaboration, Nuclear Assembly Hall, Okka Disk, 2004).
The members of Atomic – Swedish/Stockholm-based reed player Fredrik Ljungkvist and trumpeter Magnus Broo; and Norwegian/Oslo-based pianist Havard Wiik, bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love – sound as if they have begun to embrace some of the ECM ethos, but in a way that challenges accepted conventions about Scandinavian jazz. The members of Atomic are well aware of the fiery American free jazz tradition, but at the same time it derives its identity from more complex and chilly European stylings, or as Vandermark, who hosts all the band’s members in his many outfits, defined …
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