Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset debuted in 1998 with Électronique Noire, an album that convincingly fused dance, electronica, metal and jazz into a thrilling new sound. Fast-forward 12 years and Live Extracts has jettisoned the dance music influences to forge a darker sound that at times recalls latter-day King Crimson. It collects concert recordings from five performances, the majority at Germany's Moers festival.
Aarset's move away from dance music as a progressive force reflects a similar reorientation by Nils Petter Molvaer (his frequent collaborator) on Hamada, also released this year. Both albums explore the dynamics of tension and release within a more rock-oriented sound.
Electromoers is a brief ambient prologue that establishes a lowering atmosphere within which the 10-minute Electromagnetic, a tune first recorded on Aarset's 2004 album Connected, appears like an approaching storm. Dark swirls of sound wrap around Wetle Holte and Erland Dahlen's combined percussion like smoke tendrils. Then Aarset increases the pressure around the melodic heart of the track to reach a powerful crescendo, shadowed by Gunnar Halle's trumpet and ably supported by fellow guitarist Bjørn Charles Dreyer. It's a passage of high drama that's repeated later with even more force. Either side of these high-pressure sections, the group explores periods of delicate sonic filigree.
Still Changing makes for a gentle contrast providing space for saxophonist and one-time Wibutee leader Hakon Kornstad to make the first of two guest appearances. Again, the group increases the pressure to deliver an extended climax. This proves to be the modus operandi for much of Live Extracts: gradual build-ups to dramatic, guitar-driven crescendos that make for thrilling experiences and narrowly avoid being overwrought.