November 6, 2018
This feels like the album Goran Kajfeš has been gearing up to make for a long time. Of Croatian heritage but a native of Stockholm since childhood, the trumpeter has been a key mover on the Swedish jazz scene for many years, an in-demand session player and contributor to major projects including Mats Gustafsson´s hydra-headed behemoth Fire! Orchestra. His own output as a leader has only been marginally less ambitious: over the last five years, his tentet Subtropic Arkestra has released three volumes in a series going by the title "Reason Why", containing immaculate cover version of tracks by artists that have been an inspiration. Kajfeš´s choice of source materials reveals an imagination far from tied to te typical jazz canon: pieces by Soft Machine, Hailu Mergia, Panda Bear, Edip Akbayram, Cluster, Milton Nascimento and others have all helped build a picture of a musician with big ears and a penchant for prog, psych, krautrock and non-western sounds. Now, with his debut by the spin-off quartet Tropiques, Kajfeš seems to have found a way of synthesizing all those influences while finding his own voice as a composer. The album´s single 50 minute piece is a paean to the art of the longform epic, like a psychadelically informed take on The Necks´ tectonic drift, touching at times on echoes of Mike Oldfield´s Tubular Bells, Terry Riley´s Persian Surgery Dervishes and even the Seeds´garage monster Up In Her Room. Built on a central minimal organ figure played by Alexander Zethson on a vintage Crumar electric keyboard, Enso glides through a series of discret yet connected movements: from an elegiac opening fanfare, through deep, smokily downtempo jazz hung on Johan Berthling´s ponderous double bass, and on into a breathlessly racing rampage, with Johan Holmegard´s drums skipping along like aschool of flying fishjust breaking the surface. Later Kajfeš gleefully goes full prog, with a bubbling, circular riff, crazed moog solo and Don Cherry-style trumpet ricochets firing of like tracer bullets in the night. With luck, this hypnotic and immersive trip signals good thing to come.