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The Parliament of Norway should bestow on Arve Henriksen the title of King of Horn and elevate the label Rune Grammofon to the status of national treasure. Veggie is Food's third album, the ensemble's first for Rune Kristoffersen's imprint. It is simply, truly, and profoundly beautiful as well as strikingly original, and yet manages to remain grounded and accessible. Iain Ballamy (saxes), Arve Henriksen (trumpet, vocals), Mats Eilertsen (bass), and Thomas Strønen (drums) share affinities and members with Norway's premier free rock/improv group, Supersilent. But Food's music stays more melodic, quiet, and composed. Describing the music can be quite an ordeal. There is something of ECM's home-brewed jazz in the melodies, although none of its predictability. The arrangements integrate sax and trumpet improvisations plus a definite looseness in the rhythm section of song structures in a way that strongly recalls Robert Wyatt's album Shleep. On top of it all, the quartet gives the impression that it has nothing to prove: no avant-garde sectarianism, no extended virtuosity, and no technological wizardry for the sake of it either. Just a well-cooked 40 minutes of mesmerizing music that kick off with the noise blasts of "Tofu" and quickly boil down to lull the listener into a cozy daydreaming state with "Eat" and "Veg." Producer Deathprod provided the four-minute soundscape "Nofood," delicately inserted in the track list without much of an explanation as to what it is and where it comes from. It definitely adds to the charm of the album, creating the perfect mood for the closing "Mushroom," highlighted by Strønen's dismembered slow-motion drumming and Henriksen's gripping vocalizations. A must-have among the worldwide avant-garde productions of 2002.

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