«Monsters and Puppets features two prolific and versatile musicians in the Norwegian jazz scene— keyboardist Maria Kannegaard and drummer Thomas Strønen, both of whom have been playing together since 1997 in the Kannegaard Trio, with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and, recently, in vocalist Ingrid Lode’s outfit Billy Fy. This new duo was formed after the two musicians were asked to play a duo set at Molde Jazz Festival. A few days later this completely freely improvised session was recorded.
Monsters and Puppets emphasize this duo’s tendency to create abstract electronic textures that feature the broad musical vocabularies of both musicians—drawing not only from their experience in improvised jazz, but also referencing noise, electronica and post rock. These nine short pieces are processed, distorted, sustained and sampled in various attitudes in order to create richer sonic layers.
Some of the pieces induce a certain dark atmosphere, such as the slow, dark and intense “Two” and “Five” and the dense and mysterious “Seven,” all cinematic in character, easily capable of creating a tense atmosphere for a Scandinavian thriller soundtrack. “Six” is a more minimalist soundscape, as is “Nine,” which introduce an almost progressive rock symphonic element, but both suggest a cinematic narrative. “Three” is structured on a repetitive rhythm that sounds like a twisted psychedelic and spacey Gamelan orchestra. On “Four,” the duo offers almost dance-like electronic, while and on “Eight” a noisy, intense texture, based loosely on a distorted rhythm, is formed.
The musical affinity between Kannegaard and Strønen, their shared experience and always intriguing creativity turn this session into an intense musical document.»
– Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz