Anders Nilsson’s AORTA

Anders Nilsson's AORTA photo: Ninja Agborn

“I got to admit that this is some of the best jazz/rock I’ve heard in quite a while.” – BLG/Downtown Music Gallery

– A new video shot in Sweden of Anders Nilsson’s AORTA streching out on Anders’ song “Powers”:

Blood – In 2003, after living for 2 1/2 years in New York, I returned to Malmö to spend the summer. My drumming brother Peter and I were plotting to form a new band after “NoTone” disbanded. The core of the music, the sound, and the direction we were going in were all influencing the choice of players. The people who intuitively came to mind not surprisingly were my best friends; Mattias Carlson – saxophone and David Carlsson – electric bass. We have been great friends since the mid 90’s and I’ve always been in awe of their respective talents and spirits. This particular group-configuration allows for the individuals to expand and stretch, making the group’s sound what it uniquely is. Mattias was the one who came up with the name Aorta, the main vein of the Heart through which Life gets distributed to all vital parts.

During that summer of ’03 we got together to jam and hang out a few times and I came up with a number of tunes for us to record in order to have a demo and try to get some gigs to happen. Recorded with very little preparation in an unassuming recording session set up by David (who besides playing bass in the band has recorded our total studio output to date), we taped 9 tunes in 2 days. The result sounded and was very good we felt, and sparked the idea of releasing it as an album on the then newly started musician-collective-driven record label Kopasetic Productions based in the region. The CD was named “Blood” and was released in 2004. The identity of this band I think has a lot to do with an honesty of expression and how that translates to its presentation. Fire, air and will is predominant in the mix, not subdued. What we want is honesty and reality. Using electronic effects on the guitar, bass and horns enables sensory ramifications that further add to the spirit we’re going for. I’m not surprised we were received as jazz-rocky by critics, especially during this Aorta period, as the instrumentation and zeal was heavily inspired by the drive of Miles Davis’ “Live-Evil” and Tony Williams Lifetime’s “Turn it Over” in particular, both albums featuring John McLaughlin off the chain. “Blood” got selected as a “Pick Hit” in the Jazz Consumer Guide of Village Voice saying “This debut stakes guitarist Nilsson’s conceptual claims to the mother of all arteries and its pulse of life.”

Ninja Agborn’s artwork was the icing on the cake, also a lot of people have commented on the sound quality of “Blood” as somewhat “magical”. In part this is due to David’s engineering touch, but it also has to do with the presence, intensity, and communication of the band members while playing together. Acoustic events such as accidental echoing take place and are allowed to happen as the dynamics of in-the-moment interplay unfold and remind you of feeling your flow of Blood.

link to the album “Blood”:

Operation: Janus – After the first release we got some recognition and played a few gigs in Sweden that left us with a good after-taste. In the summer of 2005, we recorded our second album “Janus”. Named after the famous two-faced figure in Roman culture, it also happened to be my nickname in high school. For this one I had purposefully conceived of a handful of compositions. I liked the authentic looseness of “Blood” but had some ideas I wanted expressed and dealt with on this one. Inspirations at the time was “Loincloth”, an instrumental metal band unlike any other I’ve heard from Richmond, VA, Olivier Messiaen, Indian music. I was also hearing a broader palette of tone colors and the instrumentation was expanded a little. Hence the twofaced idea; one open, playful and carefree, the other precise, determined and aspiring. To me this balance was fascinating – the natural organic expressiveness of the group plus the element of power through unisons and counterpart aligning. There is an element of brutality in the sound of the band and this recorded statement is fiercer, more visceral and driven.

link to the album “Janus”:

Happily dancing slightly above ground – A live recording of the band was made at KOPA-festival in Malmö in 2006. We played a suite-like piece that was nicely captured on record and features the band in flight weaving in and out of riffs/themes and improvised offshoots. While somebody reacted with “Deathjazz!”, Dave Liebman also performing at the festival offered – “We’re gonna sound like a Dixieland band after these motherfuckers!” We were burning. It’s released, here’s a snippet from DMG’s review of it:

“Swedish guitar great, Anders Nilsson, has been living and playing in NY for many moons but still fronts the great Swedish jazz/rock quartet Aorta, who have two great discs out on this same label. Aorta performs a colossal 21-minute piece called “Riding the Maelstrom” on this disc. Starting with a spirited solo electric guitar intro, the quartet launch into a powerful, tight guitar and tenor sax (Mattias Carlson) led storm. The band is completed by two other brothers, David Carlsson on electric bass and Peter Nilsson on drums. Fusion fans take note, this quartet wails and sounds like some of the best fusion bands of the seventies without resorting to any of the usual clichés. Anders takes an amazing guitar solo here that must be heard to be believed.”

Find the recording here:

The heart keeps pumping and while Aorta has more manifestations coming up in the future, the sense of an expanding dimensional music continued with Anders Nilsson’s Aorta Ensemble in 2008.