In January 2007 e.s.t. were on tour in Asia and Australia performing shows in Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Jakarta, Perth and Sydney. It was their third tour of Japan and their second time on the fifth continent and the venues and audiences had become noticeably bigger. Only a few weeks before they had finished their triumphant tour of Germany performing their now legendary “Live in Hamburg” concert (awarded ‘Album of the Decade’ by the London TIMES). It was undoubtedly the prime time of the style defining jazz band of the Noughties.
Esbjörn Svensson, Magnus Öström and Dan Berglund decided to rent the famous Studio 301 in Sydney for their off-days in the middle of the Australian tour and jammed for two consecutive days to develop new songs and material. Altogether they recorded 9 hours of music. “Leucocyte” became the first release from this recording and has been praised by critics and fans alike as a ground-breaking work that leads into a new musical universe. Very soon after the recording Esbjörn Svensson had edited much of the material down to two albums. And so the plan at the time was to release either a double album or two consecutive albums from this recording. The untimely passing of Esbjörn Svensson then disrupted this undertaking and only one of the albums, “Leucocyte”, was released at the time.
Three years on, in October and November 2011, Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström revisited the material from that recording and together with their regular sound engineer Ake Linton made their own edit for an album which is now called “301” on the basis of the name of the studio where the album was recorded.
Throughout their existence one of the defining characteristics of e.s.t. was their seemingly effortless and interconnected interplay, which was on such a high level that it seemed to suggest that they were “three mutant bodies with six arms and one brain” (Jamie Cullum). This high level of interaction was achieved through years of playing together, hard work and preparation – after all e.s.t. were together since 1993. Such a connection becomes especially important when jamming without net in a studio marathon like e.s.t. did in Sydney.
Probably very few bands would be able to develop and progress improvisations in the way e.s.t. was able to, without constantly coming back to the starting point, or leaving acres of void space in the middle. Their improvisations became marches through undetected territory progressing from one place to the next without insecurity, without asking, without knowing the way, but being able to rely on the comrade at your side, just letting the music flow.
The recording sessions in Studio 301 were not only a jam, but involved e.s.t.´s sound engineer Ake Linton in the creative artistic process. Ake Linton had travelled with the band since early 2000 and was the man behind the mixing desk in over 500 shows. Together with him e.s.t. had designed their own recognizable trademark sound and Ake Linton made sure that wherever they went and performed this sound was recognizable. During the recording process at Studio 301 he would contribute by running effects, overlaying distortions and add-ins live through the desk and onto tape. This procedure is especially delicate as it cannot be reversed during mixing sessions. Therefore it is no surprise that both “Leucocyte” and now also “301” were finally mixed and mastered at Bohus Sound Recording in Gothenburg and involved Ake Linton as the mixing engineer.
Esbjörn Svensson´s untimely death on June 14th, 2008 put a much too early end to the creative output of what probably was the most exciting jazz band of the decade. The fan community has been longing for access to archival material and recordings ever since. With “301” they are now getting a full album of new original compositions and music by e.s.t. For Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström it has been a painful process to revisit the Sydney recording. Both had to move on after the sad events of 2008. Dan Berglund regrouped with some pre-e.s.t.-era musical friends and formed the indie-outfit Tonbruket, which released two albums so far (“Tonbruket” and “Dig it to the End”), while Magnus Öström released his solo-album “Thread of Life” in 2011 featuring a performance of Dan Berglund and Pat Metheny on a tribute song to Esbjörn Svensson.