Review Summary: The soundtrack of decomposion
The first thing that have to call your attention when the subject is “Leucocyte” is the artwork; it will in the first contact, explain a little all is about. What we can see is a minimalist conversion of the word “Leucocyte” to its decomposed form, like if it is losing its integrity to a glitch structure, where the original means are now going to be dead within its old forms.
In addition, that is exactly what musically happens in this last album by the now classic trio of modern jazz lead by Esbjorn Svennson. What we got here is a deep portrait of a transition, of a slow and painful metamorphosis of what we can imagine as sick body trying in its subjectivity understand what is happening to itself.
Leucocyte is not a musical metaphor for what it represents, the music itself feels like it is slowly fading in corrosion, what is slow piano jazz in the beginning of the album is forced to it's truly nature with the emblematic theme called “Jazz”. Even Jazz as a style has to force itself and not be lost. All is little by little being devastated into walls of noise and effects that took away any chance for recognizing it as the same band playing when it comes to the end.
After a first slow and calm contact with “decade”, a piano solo song that is a sad soft ballad with strange dissonant chords, we are immersed on waves of drum work and visceral piano improvisation with the huge 17 minutes track “Premonition/Earth”. This is insane and chaotically controlled by a jazz heavy cuisine that mixes itself little by little with distorted effects. A bass that freak out while the drums march endlessly together with a pulsing piano. This song shows the trio on its best form, doing some kind of rare experimentation on this side of the music.
I say it is rare because I never heard an album the manages to express its concept as this, creating a pure form in among its own style and without falling into a realm of experimentation that comes from dissonant forms of totally broken nuances, as the dodecaphonic compositions of someone as Schoenberg.
The songs flow very well one to another, the piano lines always sound inspired. The beautiful melodies for what the group is known for are still here, as can be heard on Premoniton/Contortd, but as its own title says, it all goes being contorted. Things start to get literally sick on “Still”. This is the first moment when the fight for life and form are starting to be lost; it just sucks your energy in a way you feel your body is laid down, immersed on fever and sweat. For me, it is the soundtrack of sickness. It hurts even sounding soft and slow, but the piano mixed with reverbed noises and the beats are played in a way that is almost scary and somewhat is still beautiful music.
But, no battle is lost without resistance and as we know Leucocyte is the name of the white cells vulgarly known as “soldiers of the body”, the ones that defend ourselves against sickness. The last final pieces of music called “Leucocyte” came as a separated suite divided in four parts and are where the truly experimental side of this album goes on, and obviously, when the degeneration comes to and end after a strong fight, as it sounds.
It starts after a slow short ballad again only played on piano called “Ajar”.
Those four “Leucocity” songs are a final trip which starts very heavy, strangely sounding as some band of noise music but still in love with melody and jazz, it is contorted, desperate, virtuous, noisy and harsh, and in the middle one second of silence arrives as the respect for imminent death. Everything goes little by little turning more minimalistic, less march, still noise, becoming sad, you can hear an ambulance, you can see the body losing its natural aspects as the song stops being jazz, stops being a song, as it sounds like a scream, like a person suffering, like if the music was not there anymore, as you can see the light, and you can die in peace, as if there is no one that could understand so much how is the cough of a nearly-dead man, and it all still sounds beautiful in the end. All is music as the piano travels only a few notes, that turn in two, and a beautiful melody arrives for the mass of corrosion, as the soul that leaves the body, and in the end it sounds like light, as the echo of two notes distorted in a perpetual flight. “Ad infinitum”.
There is only silence, and we got on hands the last album made by E.S.T before Esbjorn is found dead drowned after a diving try and for me, would not be possible to exist a more appropriate ending for his career than this.