«Through bands like Maria Kannegaard Trio and Live Maria Band, Kannegaard and Thomas Strønen has been playing together since 1997. Kannegaard has been hailed as one of the best pianists in the world (on the somewhat uncritical world wide web), and even though this might be taking things a little bit too far, there can be no doubt that her humoristicly edgy style, melodic ingenuity and laidback view of the world has given me a number of fantastic listening experiences. Especially the beforementioned Trio (with the albums «Quiet Joy» and «Camel Walk») and the quartet Maryland with Håkon Kornstad, Ole Morten Vågan and Håkon Mjåset Johansen stands out as highlights in the catalog of Jazzland Records, as well as in the newer norwegian jazz history. The sad thing is that her modesty creates a sort of bubble around her and her piano. Inside it, she´s truly a master, but her fantastic music has so far reached too few listeners.
I´m afraid I don´t believe «Monsters and Puppets» will be the tipping-point that brings Maria Kannegaard to the masses. This fully-improvised album is far too dark and inaccessible for listless jazz-listeners (who unfortunately are quite a few). To the brighter minds in Jazz-Norway however, I have only this to say: You know what to do!
«Monsters and Puppets» is a crystal clear break in Strønen and Kannegaards production up until now, even if a comparison to Strønen and Ståle Storløkkens Humcrush can be considered natural. The forty minutes are characterized by processed drums and electric piano, adjusted with an array of effects that conceals the origin of the sounds. It´s dark, strong and sounds as fresh as a newly poured cup of espresso. Even with a fully improvised basis we can sense, as is often the case with skilled improvisers, transitional themes that are cultivated. The gloomy improsoundscapes are taken right out of The Halls of the Mountain King, completely the opposite of Kannegaard´s previously harmonic and rhythmically based music. Surprising, fresh, interesting soundscapes and tight and organic interplay. Powerful!
– Svein Magnus Furu, Jazznytt