Funk and fusion power for the 2020s! As a fan of Our Theory who has followed the other members, Turkish sax genius and impresario Ilhan Ersahin and French trumpet madman Erik Truffaz, I was thrilled to run across Thor Madsen's work on the Ropeadope label on Bandcamp.
Favorite track: Rug That Ties The Room.
Soundscape of electronica fused jazz and a funky beat make this a pleasure to listen to! Some elements of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters and Rockit period giving it a bit of a retro feel. Love it❤️
Thor Madsen, the artist known as Thor De Force, returns to Ropeadope with two projects in 2020.
Thor Madsen was born in Chicago; his parents had arrived at a hot moment (1968) and the fully took up the spirit of the time. Before they headed back to their native Denmark, where Thor would be raised, they picked up a great vinyl collection; Santana to Deep Purple, Hendrix, Dylan, Sly and Procol Harum among the titles. Growing up Thor followed in his brother’s footsteps and learned guitar, heading across the street to the local arts and community center where he had full access to rehearsal rooms, instruments, and amps. One day his brother handed him a copy of We Want Miles, and everything changed. He was hooked, and began the process of understanding Jazz through reverse engineering.
Thor went on to what is known as a rhythmic conservatory in his home town, catching a wide variety of shows at night and digging into new music. He put together an acid Jazz band, influenced by the likes of Guru, Us3, and Digable Planets and soon received offers to perform. Thor pulled together as much as he could while in his small town, but he had it in his head to get to New York for even broader horizons. Soon he was on the scene, mixing and performing with cats at Izzy Bar and later Nublu. He was part of the Hip-Hop collective The Real Live with Dionysus, Stimulus, Eric Revis, James Hurt, and Dana Murray. As Nublu became a hub his focus shifted to the space between Jazz and Electronica, as he toured with The Nublu Orchestra, Wax Poetic, and Our Theory. Somewhere in this whirlwind he picked up his new moniker, Thor De Force, as personally described by writer John Farris.
The story tells itself: a man who let music into his soul and found it was already there. A curious mind with a persistent desire to experiment. There is a solid beginning but no end, as Madsen also works with Jazz Explorer Trio and RagaJazz with violin virtuoso Kala Ramnath. And so the new album - Sounds Of The Mansion - is a document of a journey. Working from his studio Mazza Mansion, with an arsenal of equipment within reach, Thor began each song with one seed, cultivating the sound and bringing in new ideas as they blossomed. The result is a comprehensive glimpse into the creative mind of Thor De Force.
Thor on The Build:
"The build is an instrumental album full of human presence. The new album is a continuation of Sounds Of The Mansion with an increased attention to compositional clarity, while retaining a psychedelic touch.Funky grooves and harmonic adventures, packed with catchy melodies. Madsen’s guitarplaying is in front. Most of the synth are transformed guitar parts."
From Michael Støvring:
"Thor is a musician and a guitarist, in that order. But where Thor-the-guitarist can be heard in an abundance of live-settings; Thor -as- performer has been strangely absent in the Thor de Force projects, where the ambitions have been on shaping arrangements, textures and grooves with many openings. This new album corrects some of that.
In many ways the diverse sideman experiences of playing indian musics, afro-funk and swing-types, merges in a balance here, with the digital deconstructions. -Merges the handheld forward performance and the backwards studio-tanned editing. So compared to last year’s Sounds From The Mansion, where the focus was mostly held on shapeshifting and constructed vistas, the gravity center has moved south on this one.
The Build is more bottom heavy than its predecessor, and DAT -in my ears- is a step up. This album centers on some very good pick-bass playing and a lot of trafficking in P-funk style bass synths, which creates a decisive presence within both the open- and the hard-edged tracks.
We´re in a retro-modern fusion-land here, where genre-nailing is an obstruction that only gets in the way of where the compositions flow and focus wants to go. So you have both the guitar-mass, the film-themes and the minimal afro lined up together.
It can of course function as a pick-your-favorite-album, but heard as a whole it´s suave enough to make the women stick around, and at the same time Open for Business when the big dogs come sniffing."
released May 15, 2020
Thor Madsen: Guitar, Bass, Synths, Grand Piano, Wurlitzer, Celeste, Pump Organ, Percussion, Programming
Abdullah S: Drums (3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11)
Mads Michelsen: Steel Pan (7) Congas (6, 7), Bongos (6, 7, 10), Shakers (6, 7)
Stunn Gunn: Drums (2, 7)
Liss Wesberg: Trombone (4, 6, 7, 9)
Benjamin Kissi: Vocal (10)
Boe Larsen: Grand Piano (10)
Recorded at Mazza Mansion, Copenhagen December 2018 - January 2020
mixed and mastered February 1 - 16 by Thor Madsen at Mazza Mansion
Cover photo by Sarit Dhaban
Cover art by Kaya Marks