About the album
Good things are worth waiting for. Lars Danielsson had recorded just a few tracks for a new Liberetto album in late 2019. So, when a window appeared in September 2020 between the lockdowns across Europe, he seized the opportunity to bring his fellow band-members back to his studio near Gothenburg to finish what they had started. These musicians have been familiar with Danielsson’s music for most of a decade. They understand it, they cherish it, and, throughout “Cloudland”, the joy they are having in being back together playing it is palpable.
Those who know how attractive Liberetto’s music is will find all their expectations fulfilled on “Cloudland”. The ‘elegant lyricism’ and ‘unerring groove’ which Canadian writer John Kelman spotted in the band’s first album from 2011 are to be found in abundance on this, their fourth.
This album is also a celebration of the myriad talents which the members of Liberetto bring to Danielsson’s fascinating yet completely approachable music. On “River of Little”, pianist Grégory Privat’s playing of the theme has luminous precision, yet the glimpse he gives us into an improvised world of freedom and fantasy is magical. We hear guitarist John Parricelli’s range: from the nylon-string delicacy of “Tango Magnifique” to the casbah-ish electric riffs of “Desert of Catanga”. Drummer Magnus Öström’s sensitive command of timbre and texture is jaw-dropping in the reflective “Nikita’s Dream”. And the way Arve Henriksen takes the solo lead in the title track “Cloudland” is sheer joy. There are new elements too: there has been an emboldening of Danielsson’s desire to work in asymmetric meters. His philosophy is this: “If it sounds natural then it doesn’t really matter what meter it’s in.” Another new feature is the first outing for a five-string bass-cello hybrid, a rebuilt 18C instrument, which Lars Danielsson plays gloriously, ‘arco’ on “Vildmark” and then pizzicato on “Tango Magnifique”. This is also the Liberetto debut for Syrian-born clarinettist/ composer Kinan Azmeh, a multi-talented player with a poet's sense of phrasing.
“Cloudland” richly rewards listeners’ patience; one of its very special features is the variety of its beautifully crafted endings. Take the perfectly poised ‘rallentando’ which concludes the title track, or the wry questioning of “Sacred Mind”, or the flawlessly, crisply precise ‘envoi’ of “Desert of Catanga.” This album provides a reminder that worthwhile creative processes take time to mature.