Putting its focus on "New Jazz and Audiophile Releases", it may be no coincidence that the Songlines label has never featured on Foxy Digitalis so far. This release, however, promises to be a somewhat different affair, as Poolplayers feature Arve Henriksen on Trumpet, vocals and electronics. Henriksen, who hails from Norway and is also a member of Supersilent, usually releases on Rune Grammofon.
It's easy to see why "Way Below the Surface" wasn't released there as well as it makes perfect sense for a jazz label to put out these nine tracks of mellow free jazz improvisations that rely heavily on Henriksen's trumpet and Benoit Delbecq's piano. Admittedly, I can't really judge the album's merits within the jazz context, but I have to say that I've found it hard to sit through repeated listenings of this (almost) sixty-minute-exercise. This album rarely does anything for me at all. I, for one, don't get any sense of direction here, no atmospheres, too little engaging interaction between the four players. The short, interlude-ish "Two Fold", a percussive sketch, is the first track that I can relate to. The next, "Bob Whites" is my favourite. Henriksen's vocals work really well here, multifaceted percussion and trumpet combine with brooding electronics to create a dense, almost - well - Lynchean narrative. Elsewhere, though, the group's improvisations aren't so dense and to the point, investing a lot of musicianship and experimental verve to sound like the jazz I usually try to avoid. The album picks up some momentum in the second half, when "Polyectic" ends on a sombre conversation between piano and bass, but all in all this album, for all its improvisational background, is too leather sofa for me. 4/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (15 October, 2008)