Album Review: Svaneborg Kardyb – ‘Over Tage’: Nordic magicians of the minimal and melodic.

The Breakdown

Svaneborg Kardyb reach out beyond the atmospheric to something more contemplative and affecting. Highly personal, melodically empowered electro- acoustic jazz that’s ambient and calming as well as uplifting and physical.
Gondwana Records 8.8

As a fresh, crossover-jazz partnership Svaneborg Kardyb, Nikolaj Svaneborg (Wurlitzer, synth, piano) and Jonas Kardyb (drums, percussion) have taken time to bring their delicately crafted sophistication together. The two Danish musicians from Aalborg may have known each other for more than a decade but their music making together only began in 2019 with a debut album ‘Knob’, its follow up ‘Haven’ and now the third instalment of Svaneborg Kardyb music, ‘Over Tage’ their first for Gondwana available from November 4th.

Perhaps that drawn out gestation accounts for the depth and connection in their soundscapes, it’s highly personal, melodically empowered electro- acoustic jazz that’s ambient and calming as well as uplifting and physical. Often minimal but deceptively moving, Svaneborg Kardyb make connections with the sweep of Scandi-jazz from the sparse beauty of Tord Gustavsen, the edginess of EST and the expansive folk of Nils Okland (or any other Hubro release you might dig out).

You can hear all these traces gently unwind on ‘Op’, the album’s opener. A glistening piano sings unhurried while an earthy rhythm pads alongside. Deftly placed, delicate trills pull at the emotions while a soft hi-hat whisper breezes by. Yes there’s urgency in the closing cymbal splashes and rising chords but soon this slips into a thoughtful stillness. The folk infused ‘Farvel’ pursues a similar tranquillity, uncurling Frahm-like before bundling up some gentle momentum. The timbre sensitive shuffle of Jonas Kardyb’s drums and delicate fluency of Svaneborg’s keyboard give the tune a tactile quality, warm and welcoming.

This intuitive connectivity between the two players is the source of much of Over Tage’s imperceptible power. On ‘Orkaner’ the piano pattern’s smooth propulsion blends with a steady percussive rise to ease the track onwards. It’s not so much that the two players are in step, this is the sound of pure osmosis where the elements are inseparable. As the band admit ‘the music is a sum of our personal contributions and doesn’t thrive to be anything else than that’. So there will be no to me/to you showboating for Svaneborg Kardyb.

That doesn’t mean ‘Over Tage’ reduces into an indistinct new-age wash, there is an urgency and purpose that threads through the record in that under-stated, measured kind of way. ‘Orbit’ begins expectantly with its serendipitous percussive mechanism, all chinks, clinks and rustles before opening up with distinctly spacey chord play. That’s just the set up for a melodic swell of Sigur Ros proportions topped by the hovering trumpets of Jakob Sørensen and Jonas Scheffle . Title track ‘Over Tage’ is similarly flighty, too agile to be dismissed as documentary soundtrack with its soft pounding bass-drummed pulse and undulating tunefulness.

Svaneborg Kardyb also ensure that a gentle unpredictability buzzes through the ‘Over Tage’ grooves. It would have been easy for the duo to overuse the glistening arpeggios and glacial harmonics that they set in motion so readily on tracks like ‘Fragt’ but away from their natural frosty elegance the band show a canny engagement with soul-jazz sharpness. Listen to ‘Blik’ and your soon hunkering down in prime Gondwana territory, sultry sophistication played to a lilting funk and clipped electric piano vamps. For the first time on the album you are conscious of a bassline. Even more steamy, ‘Everything Possible’ swoons with a synth washed slow swing as the trumpets squeeze intense whispered notes. Maybe these different kinds of lushness are what the pair were referring to when they admitted ‘doubts and uncertainty were kind of the foundation for the sounds of the album’. This might seem over-stated because superficially Svaneborg Kardyb’s music could be passed over as an ‘easy’ listen, but if you really tune in you realise that the partnership is as much driven by risk taking as anything else.

On ‘Over Tage’ such subtle experimentation comes closer to the surface on the pared down ‘Ubemaerket’ Here the heart wringing simplicity of Svaneborg’s electric piano carefully captivates while found percussion adds to the innocence – a song that’s just waiting for Sufjan Stevens. Equally elevational ‘Island’ glows with the spirit of a Balearic dusk and dawn, flush with reverberating keys and a flow of pattering beats, imagining the possibility of another chill.

Such simmering undercurrents of variation are key to the impact of this calmly persuasive record. Svaneborg Kardyb reach out beyond the atmospheric to something more contemplative and affecting. Perhaps you’ll just soak in the shallow, but make the effort to go deeper and you’ll find the real wonders of ‘Over Tage’.

Get your copy of ‘Over Tage’ by Svaneborg Kardyb from your local record store or direct from ;

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