Damaskus – ‘Risk’

With Mammal Hands returning to the fore last month, I decided to embark on a little mission of my own to find more emotive, piano-led jazz. In Damaskus, I’ve partially found what I was looking for, but it’s not for these reasons that I felt the need to bring them to your attention.

Damaskus are a quartet formed in 2014 in Bergen, Norway. This month, they released their self-titled debut album which has been ‘shaped over a period of several years’. An effort that should be commended of its absolute maturity and artisanal skill given the group’s youth.

In its entirety, the album has incredible depth, expression and interplay between the players; dark, at times ominous, compositions presented with light, transparent production. Given the vastness of the record, there’s a significant voyage for the listener to go on, but for nomads just passing through, Risk is arguably the optimum experience.

Risk is composed by pianist Bjørn Helge Gammelsæter, who dominates the composition credits on the album and takes the lead for the first half of this track, building a dark atmosphere which, once broken apart, reveals scarred violin and a clambering melody. Solos from guitarist Martin Haukedal and Thomas Lossius on bass aptly demonstrate the conversational interplay on this record, particularly during Lossius’s solo where Sigurd Steinkopf’s complex yet unobtrusive rhythms provide cool rain on the window accompaniment.

Risk is taken from Damaskus’s self-titled debut album, available now.

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