The Squid's Ear Magazine

VO (Zethson / Hogberg  / Berthling / Sander): The Sounds Of VO [2 CDS] (thanatosis produktion)

A rare mix of collective and chamber approaches to free improvisation from the Swedish sextet VÖ of Eva Lindal on violin, Anna Hogberg on alto saxophone, Johan Berthling on double bass, Leo Svensson Sander on cello, Alexander Zethson on piano & pump organ and Giannis Arapis on acoustic guitar, performing deeply introspective conversations that explore modernity and tradition.

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product information:

UPC: 73204070263020

Label: thanatosis produktion
Catalog ID: THT19
Squidco Product Code: 32689

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: Sweden
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Studio Rymden, in Stockholm, Sweden, on March 25th, 2021, by Daniel Bengtson.


Eva Lindal-violin

Anna Hogberg-alto saxophone

Johan Berthling-double bass

Leo Svensson Sander-cello

Alexander Zethson-piano, pump organ

Giannis Arapis-acoustic guitar

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"From the opening seconds it's clear that the debut recording of the improvising sextet VÖ is not just another free improv session. The deeply meditative sounds may conjure disparate folk traditions from around the globe, whether Scandinavian fiddle tunes or the way Alex Zethson's meandering pump organ evokes the exploratory harmonium lines in Pakistani qawwali music, but these associations are mostly coincidental. The ensemble members are devoted to improvised and experimental music mostly as an operating procedure. The sound seeking they engage in together ends up suggesting all sorts of traditions and approaches as a byproduct of spontaneous interplay, but there was no map guiding them. The places they take the listener are often unexpected, rewarding us with ravishing warmth, tenderness, and a powerful ambiguity. What exactly is this music?

Zethson assembled the sextet for a day-long session at Daniel Bengtson's homey Studio Rymden in Stockholm in late March of 2021. The Greek guitarist Giannis Arapis was in town to work with another ensemble led by the keyboardist, who decided to take advantage of his presence with this first-time grouping-although many of the musicians have worked together in disparate contexts over the years. All of the music was created spontaneously with very little discussion beforehand, although Zethson did play the core of "Landsort 1916," a theme he originally wrote for the 1917 silent film Terje Vigen, with the others improvising upon its form. None of them had ever heard it before the tape started rolling. The recordings illustrate the rapport these players immediately felt. Most of the album's first disc features a quintet with Arapis, Zethson, double bassist Johan Berthling, cellist Leo Svensson Sander, and violinist Eva Lindal-saxophonist Anna Högberg, who was only able to spend a bit more than an hour in the studio, plays on many of the shorter, smaller group pieces, as well as the lone sextet piece on the first disc, the mournful "Let whatever is sounded be returned to the ground". The probing quality of those pieces, which each participant exploring a lush, rustic sound field that often feels eternal in its stark beauty, is balanced by a powerfully unified execution.

There was no guidepost for a piece like "Epiphanies," the opening track, but the way the musicians build the piece from see-sawing pulse-like guitar plucks into an expansive rumination with swelling, cycling arco violin, cello, and bass swelling and cycling through Zethson's lyric rumination suggests otherwise. It sets a tone for what follows, with the ensemble engaging in shifting dialogues where there are no questions or answers. Instead, they come together wordlessly for the sheer sake of community, as each gesture builds upon a previous utterance or pushes the group in a subtle, new direction. On "Discordia Harmonia" the guitar and bass glide through a knotty tangle of levitating sound on top of fluttering pump organ figures. Even when the violin and cello enter, they contribute to a kind of floating holding pattern, building up tension for more than three exquisite minutes before the organ suddenly switches into a more propulsive mode. As with most of the pieces, there's no predictable resolution, but the piece fades into silence, as if some naturally occurring phenomenon that we're lucky enough drink for a few minutes as we pass by."-Thanatosis

Artist Biographies

"Eva Lindal grew up in Stockholm, Sweden. She studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (1973-76), with further studies in Switzerland and Banff (Canada). In 1998 she met and began studying improvisation with Connie Crothers and continued the association for almost a decade.

During 1986-2000 Eva was a member of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Since then she has been a freelance musician, with a special focus on improvisation, and contemporary music, as well as the baroque era. Eva is a member of Katzen Kapell ("One of Sweden's best bands"-Camilla Lundberg, Expressen), and also the contemporary groups MA and

She regularly performs in a trio with Bill Payne (clarinet) and Carol Liebowitz (piano), in a duo with Anna Lindal (violin), in the trio WE with Mattias Windemo (guitar), Jonny Axelsson (percussion), in the trio Filip Augustson/Viva Black: Filip Auguston (bass), Christopher Cantillo (drums) as well as collaborations with Connie Crothers (piano), Oskar Schönning, Barriärorkestern Stockholm, Cullberg Ballet, Ensemble Recherche (Freiburg), Bit 20 (Bergen), Sonanza, Karlsson Barock and Drottningholm Theatre."

-Eva Lindal Website (

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Anna Högberg is a saxophonist, a member of Dog Life, Fire! Orchestra

-Squidco 9/20/2023

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"Johan Berthling (* 1973 in Stockholm ) is a Swedish jazz and improvisational musician ( contrabass , electric bass , also piano ).

Berthling studied at the Royal Music College in Stockholm from 1996-1998 . Since then, he has worked in the Swedish and international jazz and improvisation scene in various ensembles including David Stackenäs , Raymond Strid , Fredrik Ljungkvist , Sten Sandell , Paal Nilssen-Love , Akira Sakata , Mats Gustafsson , Jonas Kullhammar and the Christer Bothén Acoustic Ensemble. In the field of jazz, he was involved in 23 recording sessions between 1996 and 2014. He also worked with folkmusicist and songwriter Nicolai Dunger ( roasting och herren , 2007)."

-Wikipedia translated by Google (

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"Cellist Leo Svensson Sander is a member of Erlend Viken Trio, Eter (6), Gul 3, Skog Och Dal, Skogen, Skuggorna Och Ljuset, The Tiny, Walrus"

-Discogs 9/20/2023

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"Alexander Zethson has completed the bachelor performance programme in jazz at KMH and is currently studying at the second year of the master's programme with Lisa Ullén as his primary instrument teacher.

Alexander has participated in extensive concert and tour activities and has participated in fifteen record productions. The ensembles include:

• Niklas Barnö's free jazz group Je Suis!• A number of tours in Europe with Martin Küchen's group Angles 9

Alexander is also active as arranger and pianist in collaboration with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, a cooperation which began in 2011. Zethson, Sofia Jernberg and Lene Grenager has arranged music from Hallingdal and Røros performed by the TJO with Zethson, Jernberg and violinist/Hardanger fiddler Olav Luksengård Mjelva."

-KMH Royal College of Music in Stockholm (

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"Giannis Arapis (1994) is a guitarist based in Athens, Greece who performs, composes and improvises experimental rock and jazz music. His main purpose is to help establish the electric guitar as a melodic voice in avant-garde music, thus showing how you can create chaos with melodic phrases. Some of his main influences are the first free jazz saxophonists, as well as classical composers such as Bella Bartok and Shostakovich.

He has played and recorded with Noël Akchoté, Mats Gustafsson, Eva Lindal, Johan Berthling among others.

Some of his notable groups in noise rock and free jazz are Mammock and Ramdat."

-NeuGuitars (

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Track Listing:

1. Epiphanies 09:20

2. Let whatever is sounded be returned to the ground 07:16

3. Discordia Harmonia 07:10

4. Cyclosis 07:50

5. Moebius 03:14

6. Landsort 1916 06:30

7. Sonorous Icons I 01:57

8. Undercurrents 02:43

9. Natrix Natrix 05:23

10. Primus Motor 02:18

11. Sonorous Icons II 01:41

12. Dawa 02:54

13. Dawwa 02:43

14. Tajga 03:08

15. Collected Limbs I 01:51

16. Collected Limbs II 04:55

17. Transgressio 02:21

18. Ashes 02:46

19. Automata 03:37

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Chamber Jazz
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Sextet Recordings
Collective Free Improvsation
New in Improvised Music
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