Merje Kägu Ensemble

When Silence Falls
(Losen)

As the title of Merje Kägu’s debut as a leader and composer, When Silence Falls, suggests, the Sweden-based guitarist deals in subtlety. On the seven compositions here, even when the pulse is true and the melodic line active, the mood is one of introspection.

In Kägu’s explorations, she pulls together ideas from different traditions, but in a restrained manner. On one tune, she’ll finesse a winding guitar solo against a straight rhythm section (“Time To Grow”). On another, she uses strings in a classical setting without a rhythm section (“Linda”). Intriguingly, the focus of Kägu’s compositions often are gossamer-like duet sections—violin and cello, oboe and flute, voice and violin—either in steady unison or fleeting harmony. Just about every tune has one, and in these dialogs lie much of the compositions’ simple, sophisticated drama.

Kägu formed the album’s seven-person cross-over group two years ago in Gothenburg, Sweden, drawing players from several different countries and the divergent spheres of classical, jazz and improvised music. The group cohesion is strong, however, and all the players demonstrate equal facility in written and improvised music—a rare thing.