Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Nils Petter Molvaer: Solid Ether [ECM, 2001]
The son of a (savor this phrase) local jazz musician from an island off the northwest coast of Norway, Molvaer cut his teeth on electric Miles the way other kids cut theirs on Black Sabbath. On 1998's Khmer, he joined or anticipated Jon Hassell, Tim Hagans, and Graham Haynes (with Bill Laswell the only nontrumpeter) in the growing cadre of syncretic visionaries who set themselves to building something from that idea a quarter century after it was hauled off the jazzsite in black plastic bags. And on this follow-up, he sounds like the best of them. Not alone in connecting Agartha to the turmoil of drum and bass, he has the guts to let the beat take over, and when he goes ambient he looks to Gil Evans for structural reinforcement. He references Don Cherry as well as Jack Johnson. He mixes in dub, vocoder, a borrowed piccolo trumpet, even two discreet poetry readings. He immerses in chaos and comes out beautiful. A