Review: Magnus Öström at Turner Sims, Southampton

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Magnus Öström, former drummer of the Esböjrn Svensson Trio, presented his last solo album, Parachute, at Turner Sims on 27th January. Accompanied by his traditional ensemble (Andreas Hourdakis on the guitar, Thobias Gabrielson at bass and keabords, and the pianist Daniel Karlsson), he proved to us exactly why he is known as one of the main figures in the Nordic jazz scene.

Öström’s music seems very impressive at first, a bit disappointing after that, and impressive again at the end. There seems to be no middle ground. His mix between jazz and electronic is sometimes overwhelming, and during other points in the show, when you get used to it, is almost quite flat. But this is in no way a criticism: although not very rare (a friend told me that the guys from Snarky Puppy also do it, and I assume my friend didn’t want to evilly deceive me), no one could deny that Öström’s use of the delay pedal on his drums is impressive. The same could be said of the other electronic effects they use. But it is true in songs such as ‘Junas’ that perhaps it is too overwhelming; sounds overlap, creating some sort of avant-garde cacophony.

Ironically, the best and most praised songs of the concert were the “normal” ones, such as the nostalgic ‘Searching for Jupiter’ and the mournful ballad ‘Ballad for E.’, which Magnus dedicated to his recently passed mother. However, ‘The Shore of the Unsure’, the song that closed the first set of the concert, is probably the most accurate portrait of Öström and his band: aggressive melodies and rhythms, accompanied by a lyrical line of, in this case, guitar.

However, what is really puzzling is how Öström manages to combine his past with his future. Musically, his solo career could slightly resemble the Esböjrn Svensson Trio, but it is just a mirage; compared with Esböjrn Svensson, his music is much more urgent and almost feral. Perhaps less beautiful. Magnus is a natural born drummer, as he proved in an impressive five-minute drumming solo, but to what degree his solo career is comparable with his previous one is not very clear. It may be stupid of me to even propose some kind of comparison: there is no need in doing so. Öström is a great musician, just as Svensson was before his tragic death in 2008.

Öström’s concert at Turner Sims was fantastic on its own terms, and although the best moments were the most “Svenssonian” ones, Magnus Öström is not some sort of inheritor of Esböjrn. As he said at a point of the concert, he was just his friend.

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Second year Philosophy student. Clearly not English.

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