Men and Flies - Martin Hagfors Album Review
This is a curiously absorbing and absorbingly curious release from Norway's Martin Hagfors. Initially unleashed last summer around Europe, 'Men And Flies' finally gets a US issue and a UK push (of sorts - sending this out to reviewers for belated reviews....) and it's thoroughly deserving.
Erring on the side of string-laden contemporary jazz-rock as a template, there is plenty of really well-arranged music here sneaking into the fields of country and folk, without much in the way of cringe-worthy over-tones. 'Appetite' and 'Men And Flies' kick-start the album in a perky way - quite why Hagfors resorts to a Yankee-drawl I'm not sure but, as the album unravels, I get used to it. The title track is one of the many highlights on this ear-tickling 9-song set, another being the longer intricate work-outs of 'The Kernel Question' and the closing 'Married Man (Commands A Fee)', the latter seemingly dealing with the baggage that goes with a man tied to another, a lush and orchestral ballad that slips into a doleful stanza that reminds me of something Eno might plonk on 'Apollo' should he choose to re-record it. It's a rather beautiful end to 'Men And Flies', gorgeous enough to make you want to press 'play' again.
It's hardly surprising that the musicianship is exquisite - one of them, Mathias Eick plays flugelhorn and trumpet for ECM in his spare-time as an example. Many plays makes for a patient reward - well worth seeking out.