Lars Fiil | CD Review from Sammy Stein

Written by | CD Reviews, News, Reviews

Lars Fiil is a pianist currently living in Copenhagen. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus in 2014, after studying in Stockholm, Helsinki and Trondheim. He released his first album ‘Reconsideration’ as a leader in 2011. It received good appraise, and was nominated for a Danish Music Award. The Lars Fiil Quartet also won the prestigious competition Young Jazz in 2010. In 2015 Lars released ‘Frit Fald’ featuring saxophonist Lis Kruse and drummer Bjørn Heebøll. Lars is active in the Danish music scene in a number of projects. Lars has gone larger for this album and ‘Everything is a Translation’ features his septet, including some of the most interesting improvisers from the European jazz scene. The music is based on original compositions with room for collective improvisations and soundcapes.  Released on Fiil Free Records on 26th September, ‘Everything is a Translation’ is one of those CDs that opens doors and windows in musical minds.

‘Why Search For Common Ground ‘ opens the CD and already you have to listen carefully because it is so very quiet to start.  Piano whispers sweet notes creating a dreamy, other worldliness before trumpet, reeds and percussion join in, so soft, gentle, tweaking and teasing , enhancing the atmosphere and adding to it in waves of sound so tentative, peaceful and non-confrontational it is difficult not to be taken some place else in your head. However, gradually, almost without you realising it, the sound grows, the textures and layers deepen, and the colours bloom until by the end of the track the sound has grown and developed to such an extent it is verging on the manic. The track grows in an example of how a piece can emerge with the musicians listening, feeling each other’s vibes and interpreting them in ways felt by all. A well-supported sax interlude triggers the ascent into glorious, delicious free playing from the two-thirds mark and everyone follows with drums racking up the pace and everyone following suit. The build is slow, relentless and absolutely marvellous until the piano is left more or less on its own, the keys being run up and down with almost reckless speed and yet so controlled it is beautiful before the music slows and fades. ‘You Should Say I’ begins with piano , with the bass creeping in almost unheard before the sound of it swells, the vibraphone joins and plays a counter-melody over the piano theme. A slow, rocking beat develops with the percussion gently bringing everyone up and increasing the tempo before the reeds and brass enter the quietness to take the same theme but now into realms of improvisation and exploration. Never losing the theme, this track is both beautiful and clever in its structure and development. There is a lot going on with different rhythms off-setting each other and again the track offers layer upon layer of texture and different vibrations.

‘Is It Doubt’ is spacey, atmospheric and led by a reed/vibraphone collaboration and discussion at the start, which is enhanced and added to by thunkings , squeaks and little interruptions by various different sounds from piano, bass and guitar. It is a journey of sound and texture.

‘Progress In The Name Of’ begins with a lovely piano solo in which the theme is set in solid rock and over which the rest of the band travel on waves of sound. This is strong, dynamic and almost theatrical in its ebbs, flows, rises and falls. It is also completely manic, particularly in the second third, and that makes it gorgeous. The changes in tempo, rhythms and leads make this interesting and intriguing right to the end of the track. The percussion is outstanding and in terms of great improvisation, they nailed it.

‘Everything Is A Translation’ tail-gates the CD and does so with style, from the quiet, gentle introduction to the gradual build, to the percussive additions and the final section with mad, delirious trumpet rampaging in the background over sleazy, rolling sax and gentle, almost constant piano trinklings, to the final coming together in an almost anthemic theme and the final fade out, leaving just percussive notes to see you on your way, this is just over thirteen minutes of great, great music.

What strikes me about this septet is their intuitive creation of sound but also their delight in using their instruments to create noises and sounds which are unexpected (and at times unexplained).In ‘Progress’ there is a section where the trumpet takes over the rhythm, changes it and is followed by the others, and this is a common theme. Each musician leads, follows and intercepts at approximately the perfect point so there is no sense of competition or playing follow my leader, it all just evolves, which what good improvised music does. At the beginning there should be an announcement ‘ today, we are going on a journey, a musical journey, you will find it interesting and intriguing’ because that is what this CD is – interesting, intriguing and enjoyable.  The soundscapes created are intense, almost visible and you verge on gentle drowsiness to alert eye-popping alertness sometimes in a heartbeat. The only limitation is the listener’s own imagination. Using seven musicians who interpret each other’s music so acutely was a stroke of genius on Lars part so, take the plunge,  let Lars lead and trust the music created by this exceptional septet take you into a land of wonders.

Personnel:   Tomasz Dabrowski (PL) – trumpet

Henrik Pultz Melbye (DK) – saxophone, clarinet

Henrik Olsson (SE) – guitar

Martin Fabricius (DK) – vibraphone

Lars Fiil (DK) – piano

Casper Nyvang Rask (DK) – double bass

Bjørn Heebøll (DK) – drums


Artist:Fiil Free

Title: Everything Is A Translation

Label: Fiil Free Records – Direct purchase link

Catalogue Number:FFR0916

Format: CD/streaming/download

Release date: 20. September 2016

Contact:, +45 28928606

YT Video: Lars Fiil Fredslund

Images: Lars Fiil Fredslund

Last modified: July 15, 2018