"A primal force of something... real. I have listened back and forth to the new album of Anna Högberg's “Attack” numerous times now and it hit me like a split axe in a split second: this music is for real! Wham Bam! This is liberating music. Allowing music. It hits me just as the split axe hits the wood. Without hesitation, but still very sensitive. Pure power does not cut the wood automatically. No fancy flirts with post-this and post-that. Just the force. Of itself. This music is definitely connected to something. Nature? Life? The nooooooow!
Having visited Anna and her family in the north of Sweden recently to make an interview with her – and a solo sax shoot - for a film project on the late Bengt “Frippe” Nordström, it hit me already then. Her connection to something deeper is for real. As real as the split axe outside of their house. Snapshot: Anna in her beloved Helly Hansen- outfit. Short hair and boots. Playing up on a cliff with the forest in her back. The sea below her. Her support and inspiration. Anna lives with her family on the verge of 'Höga Kusten' (the High Coast) – famous for the ultimate delicacy Surströmming (Sour herring) and wild Ice-hockey-related-behaviors. It is pretty obvious to me where she draws some of her inspiration from.
I have followed this wild ensemble from its beginning. And now it is all ripping! It was pretty much amazing from the very beginning. A fascinating creative jazz with its roots in the '60s. But never as a pale imitation or repetition, but as a real new take on a tradition and the upcoming future. I hear now music that has gone deeper on all levels. I kid you not! It is still wild and provocative in its form and execution. But the compositional work is way more solid now and the solistic statements are spectacular.
The addition of Niklas Barnö on trumpet is sensational. He was the missing piece. The way I hear it. It was truly great before he joined the forces, but this shit is explosive. And yet poetic. The balance of the group is unique, and the individual personal voices make this a real adventure to listen to. I love how the hornlines travel without any stress... how the bass is solid as a rock... how the piano is commenting the events freely and beautifully (this is my absolute favorite Lisa Ullén record to date! Fuck yeah!)... how the drums are swinging beyond swing... the tenor sax of Elin Larsson is ripping the instant now in a way that I just LOVE (brutally and poetic)... and the build-ups... fuckin magic! And hey - check the trumpet work of Niklas Barnö out again (and again) - this guy is serious. As serious as your life... And Anna Högberg herself.... I have no words. I love her shit beyond comprehension.
But hey - don’t let me fool you - make up your own mind. Listen up. Listen to it all. I just want to express my true dedication to the players and the music at hand. No real need for me to describe what is going on here. It is pretty obvious. “Attack” is on the move. This shit is free. It is a difficult navigation - to deal with all the strong traditions of American, European and Scandinavian takes on the creative jazz - But with this new album, “Attack” manages to make me forget about all those stupid analytical hang-ups. I just listen and enjoy what I hear. Free music is free music. And when it is combined with such beautiful melodic lines and grooves in addition to the stellar solo works.... What can we say??? The music takes over.
Music in general is a primal force and Anna Högberg and her crew got it. There is no doubt. Just as the split axe splits the wood with the right attack, swing, force and angle. Wham Bam! This shit is Real. Wham Bam, thank you Ma’am!"
Mats Gustafsson, Nickelsdorf, Easter 2020