Tuesday, March 12, 2024


I don’t much like referring to PR bumf in reviews, but in this case it’s worth mentioning that AEGTESKAB, the trio of Danish musos Eddi Jarl (drums), Mike Andersen (guitar and vocals) and Michael Bilcher (sax and bass) apparently constitutes a “supergroup”.  Well, maybe in Copenhagen, though I have to say I’ve never heard of any of ‘em.  But here’s the thing – that’s all irrelevant.  Quite simply, this is a remarkable album.
Opening track ‘How Do You Do It’ combines tip-tapping drums and minimalist acoustic strumming, while Bilcher’s smouldering baritone sax drifts in and out of a motif before Andersen picks up with an immaculate, plaintive vocal on a simple, gorgeous melody.  And then some luminous electric guitar falls out of the heavens, flickering and pulsing to add a whole other
Mike Andersen, Eddi Jarl and Michael Blicher - a marvellous ménage à trois of talents
Pic by Rasmus Bundgaard

dimension, while Jarl gradually shifts the percussion into more syncopated mode, quite possibly using a cajón.  It really is something else – and they're only getting started.
If I say that there are echoes of Sean Costello to tracks such as ‘My Long Time Lover’, ‘Out Of My Head’ and ‘Waste Of Time’, the thought is prompted mostly by the fact that vocally Andersen is frequently a dead ringer for Costello – though their blues and soul sensibilities are also worthy of the comparison, even if their sound is a world away in execution.  ‘My Long Time Lover’ opens with a halting guitar refrain, and then ambles along at a mind-bogglingly slow tempo, with little going on beyond a simple beat, low moans of sax, and a wonderful, reflective vocal.  Call it soul, call it blues, call it the Great American Songbook for all I care, it’s evocative stuff, suddenly illuminated by flutters of bluesy guitar, while Bilcher adds some singular sax playing.  For me there’s a real vibe of Costello’s ‘Cuttin’ In’ to ‘Out Of My Head’, with its funereal beat, late night jazzy sax, and a perfectly pitched go-slow blues guitar solo by Andersen. And ‘Waste Of Time’, with its handclaps and sax intro, is soulful and swinging – once again, slowly.  There’s tickling guitar over a skipping rhythm, and a bloody marvellous guitar break complemented by jittery, St Vitus Dance drums from Jarl.
They explore some different avenues too though, as on the two minutes’ worth of twitchy modern soul on ‘Checking Out’, with its sax riffing and a simple beat that lands in the perfect place and then trips itself up to create a groove, embellished by a bright, danceable instrumental section. ‘This Morning’ is spikier fare, with tense, ticking guitar and a doomy, kinda martial rhythm interrupted by chunky sax and guitar chords, while a grumpy Andersen agitatedly demands that “If you no longer love me, for god’s sake say it out loud,” before embarking on a squealing, discordant, but still restrained solo. (It’s worth knowing that “aegteskab” is Danish for “marriage”, and that, ironically, two of the three band members went through marriage break-ups around the time the trio came together.)
There are a couple of instrumentals in different styles too. ‘Laura Lee’ introduces curious synthy beeps’n’bleeps’n’beats, while Andersen lays out some fluid guitar that, with saxy echoes in the background, could be Mark Knopfler performing some ‘Private Investigations’, except, well, it isn’t.  ‘Headlights’ is more moody, a sax-led jazzy affair with prickling guitar that doesn’t seem to have the resonance of other tunes – until 3 minutes in when it all goes a bit ‘In The Air Tonight’ with clanging chords and thunderous peals of drums.
That slow and sensitive vibe is the backbone of the album though. ‘World Gone Wrong’ is sad and elegiac, with Andersen singing “Meet me there when we transcend this world gone wrong” in another perfectly pitched vocal, and Bilcher adds a contemplative, spaced out sax interlude. And album closer ‘The Storm’ paints a picture in slow, slow, no quick slow fashion, with Andersen delivering a languorous, sparse guitar solo over rising drums to signal the impending storm, whether literal or emotional.
So they may not really be a “supergroup”, but hell’s bells these guys are imaginative, distinctive, and seriously talented. And in AEGTESKAB they’ve produced a really, really good album. What more can I say? Go give it a spin and see what you make of it yourself.
 is out now, and can be ordered here.

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