Ola Kvernberg's Steamdome was for at least one listener the most sensationally visceral album to come his way during 2018. Part future-jazz, part EDM, part avant-rock, part contemporary-classical, wrap-around shamanistic. It was Kvernberg' follow-up to 2014's The Mechanical Fair, which has now been issued in an extensively recalibrated version recorded live at the Molde International Jazz Festival in 2016.
There are similarities between Steamdome and The Mechanical Fair Live, as you would expect of works coming from the same pen. But on the surface, the two albums could hardly be more different. Steamdome sounds like everyone involved had ingested a truckload of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. Propelled by three drummers, it is high energy, high decibel, ecstatic, relentless and, after 50 minutes, borderline exhausting. It is the most intense moments of Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring ramped up for the age of anxiety. By contrast, The Mechanical Fair Live is restorative, lyrical, balm for the soul, burnished yin to the earlier album's beserker yang.