-The Swedish jazz collective release their best effort yet.

“Ritual” is by far the most blissful release I’ve heard from this avant-jazz collective yet. The compositions are more melodic and occasionally beautiful, the vocals are less freakish, and there is little to no brooding to be found here. In fact, “Ritual” is lively, rousing, and energetic, almost celebratory in a way.

Things still teeter on the edge of insanity, though, at times slipping into the void. For one, the sound here is big and chaotic: you’ve got two drummers, electric piano, guitar, bass, two vocalists, walls of horns, screeching saxophones, wailing trumpets, manic clarinets, etc. It’s definitely a jubilee of chaos. But this chaos is contained with some repetitive rhythms and compositions. The drums are almost krautrockian in their steadiness. They will get more intense and rise and fall with the music, both in volume and in tempo, but throughout they are remarkably repetitive, lending this album an extremely entrancing and hypnotic quality. The grooves they repeat are often in strange time signatures as well, and are played with this bristling energy, making this album burst with urgency.

You do get two calms in these five tracks though. The album is split up into simply five parts, aptly titled “Ritual Part 1,” “Ritual Part 2,” and so on forth, and parts 3 and 5 are way more subdued as opposed to the freewheeling remaining parts. Part 3 begins actually quite obtusely, with seas of guitar feedback complimented by spazzing vocals. But this transitions into a spacious, almost noirish theme melody. It’s this combination of bizarre energy and experimentation with old time tradition that calls to mind, dare I say, Charles Mingus. And even more spacious is the closer, which has this bluesy, woozy chord progression that moves along at a snail’s pace, but never becoming boring.

…Especially when contrasted with the wild energy of the other tracks. This album displays a blissful, infectious energy, thoroughly enthralling and hypnotizing you into a world of [controlled] chaos. It’s ritualistic.

4.5 stars

Standout Tracks: “Part 1” “Part 2” “Part 4”

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