Music Outpost

Licensing Music on The Sonic Frontier

Pixel - (Norway)

Pixel, led by the remarkable 25-year-old bassist/vocalist Ellen Andrea Wang, is a powerhouse indie-jazz quartet which is possibly the most alluring band yet to explode out of Norway’s burgeoning improvised music scene. Combining indie rock energy with the improvisational flexibility of a post-bop combo, Pixel breaks down familiar musical elements and recombines them in a succession of startlingly original sound scapes. Earthy and ethereal, wistful and aggressive, sensuous and pummeling, the band refuses to settle into one mood or sonic space for long.

When she’s not working with Pixel, Wang can be heard accompanying pop singer Thea Hjelmeland or anchoring the progressive rock bands Synkoke and White Willow. She’s already contributed to nearly a dozen albums with various artists. Last year, she earned several coveted awards, including the prestigious Jazztalent Dølajaz. As a graduate of Oslo’s Norwegian Academy of Music, she gained widespread attention in Norway with the release of 2010’s Norwegian Song 3. She was subsequently pegged as a rising bass star who held her own in the company of established masters like pianist Dag Arnesen, drummer Pål Thowsen and trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg.

All four Pixels are ubiquitous on the fiercely creative Scandinavian jazz scene, which has embraced the quartet as an exemplar of Norway’s populist cutting edge. Slated for a series of major festivals and showcases across the region and the UK, Pixel is poised to take the jazz world by storm.

Pixel features the same classic, piano-less, 'modern jazz' quartet lineup of sax, trumpet, bass and drums as the epochal jazz quartets led by Ornette Coleman and Gerry Mulligan. Like these antecedents, the band takes full advantage of the harmonic freedom allowed by the lack of a chordal instrument, but Pixel is more interested in painting scenes than in setting up extended solos. With sharply etched compositions, Pixel has attained preternatural cohesion after two years together, moving seamlessly from composed passages to group improvisation marked by conversational interplay. A radical democracy, no one instrument stays in the foreground for long. Pixel makes every note count, never wasting a moment or letting a tune wear out its welcome.

Pixel - "Prelude (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 2:26

A slow, deep, and primal acoustic bass introduces and supports a dreamy wordless melody sung by the female vocalist.

Pixel - "Home (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 3:03

A jaunty mid-tempo theme is stated by bass and saxophone, which is then reinforced by trumpet and punchy drums.

Pixel - "Esset (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 4:51

Bass and drums lay down a very funky backbeat before sax and trumpet state the opening theme. The sax then takes a lively, adventurous solo turn before the opening theme is reprised by the group and the piece fades away.

Pixel - "Call Me (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 3:26

The vocalist delivers a playful, up-tempo punk-inspired plea for a telephone call from a reluctant paramour (“why don’t you call me?”) while accompanying herself on bass, with trumpet and sax adding staccato punctuation to the groovy, hip-shaking Latin rhythm.

Pixel - "She Knows (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 4:35

Mellow opening riffs from sax and trumpet evolve into the theme before the trumpet takes a thoughtful, soulful solo and the opening theme and riffs are restated.

Pixel - "Wake Up (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 3:48

A gentle, ethereal vocal from singer Ellen Wang opens the piece, while the ensemble sets up a powerful rhythmic counterpoint to the vocal

Pixel - "Waltz 1 (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 3:40

As the song title indicates, a gentle, this is a leisurely waltz, with saxophone caressing the melody and the bass providing counterpoint.

Pixel - "Hvor Ble Den Av? (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 8:38

A long, lyrical jazz excursion, beginning with breathy, wistful trumpet, then counterpoint from the sax and wordless scat vocals from the singer, who introduces a bit of restrained drama. The ensemble then rides the haunting theme into the sunset.

Pixel - "I Hang (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 4:21

A funky, sultry feature for vocalist Ellen Wang, who is joined in vocal chorus by additional ensemble members, with a solo interlude from soprano sax.

Pixel - "An Apple in the Country Hill (Excerpt #1)"- full track= 4:17

Mysterious drones from trumpet, sax and bowed bass evolve into moody, lyrical statements from trumpet and then tenor sax.

Pixel - "Be Mine (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 5:20

A lively vehicle for the ensemble, with the lyric expressing the singer’s earnest desire for a lover’s favor while sax and trumpet play unison lines behind her, with the soprano sax contributing an expressive solo before a return to the melody.

Pixel - "Space (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 3:53

A funky vocal excursion, with the singer expressing her need for “space” and independence, with the trumpet and sax again playing the melody line in unison behind her before breaking out with some percussive riffs and then a restatement of the opening theme.

Pixel - "Farris (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 4:10

A languid, pensive ballad, first carried by the trumpet above an almost subliminal Latin rhythm from the drummer. Later, trumpet and sax lines embrace the melody and intertwine soulfully.

Pixel - "Edge (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 5:20

A funky Latin rhythm kicks off this spirited vocal piece, with the lyric pledging the singer’s love for and loyalty to a partner, and the musical dynamic further propelled by a strong solo from the tenor sax before fading out with a repeated riff from singer and ensemble.

Pixel - "Night Dreamer (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 7:52

Strong tenor sax and hard-rock drumming open this instrument piece, which then slips into a muted middle section with a mellow trumpet solo before finally roaring back with the ensemble’s restatement of the opening theme.

Pixel - "Night Dreamer (Excerpt #2)"- Full Length = 7:52

Strong tenor sax and hard-rock drumming open this instrument piece, which then slips into a muted middle section with a mellow trumpet solo before finally roaring back with the ensemble’s restatement of the opening theme.

Pixel - "Easter Song (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 1:15

A very short, hypnotic trance piece with a minimalist arpeggiated riff from the tenor sax and an angelic, multi-tracked wordless vocal chorus from the female singer.

Pixel - "Passport (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 5:02

A loping instrumental with a catchy melody and a bright but restrained trumpet solo.

Pixel - "Dreaming (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 3:35

A honking R&B sax opens this piece and the female vocalist contributes a spirited vocal with backing from the ensemble. A delicious pop confection.

Pixel - "Sigma (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 3:35

Sax and trumpet create a righteous groove, while bass and drums bubble beneath the surface and the tenor saxman shows off his chops and contributes some fierce, impassioned blowing.

Pixel - "Daylight (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 2:57

A spirited up-tempo vocal piece featuring the strong, clear voice of the singer/bassist, whose lyric expresses a longing for an absent lover after a quarrel, with support from some vigorous saxophone skronk and dramatic trumpet flurries.

Pixel - "Time (Excerpt #1)"- Full Length = 3:53

A delicate, melodic piece delivered by the female vocalist, with sweet and tender minimalist accompaniment from sax and trumpet.