Terje Rypdal: Melodic Warrior (ECM/Ode)

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Terje Rypdal: Song of Thunders
Terje Rypdal: Melodic Warrior (ECM/Ode)

We put this album here under "Jazz in Elsewhere" simply for the convenience of those who know Norwegian guitarist Rypdal's long career in that idiom. But a quick glance at the other performers -- the Hilliard Ensemble and a couple of orchestras -- tells you there is something a whole lot more ambitious going on.

Rypdal -- who brings his glorious sustain and delay style to proceedings, sort of Santana with restraint if we allow ourselves that -- has previously embarked on such large projects but this sets a new threshold.

The title piece -- a nine-part suite which includes a crunching three minutes of percussion, odd vocals and free-form guitar sonics alongside stentorian horns on the mighty Song of Thunders -- which is sort prog-classical and includes unearthly vocals by Britain's Hilliard Ensemble (who have worked with saxophonist Jan Garbarek, notably on Officium).

There are passages (in The Secret File) where you can discern the influence of Ligeti, and in others pure prog-rock when Rypdal comes into the foreground for some searing playing (the churn'n'sprint of My Music Reaches to the Sky). And there is also a sense of holy minimalism in other places when the mood comes right down to the empty choral hall at midnight. The section A Prayer is pure romanticism.

The second work here is the four-part And the Sky Was Coloured With Waterfalls and Angels, a much more impressionistic suite. Hardly surprising given it was inspired by a fireworks festival . . . although Rypdal keeps the fuse burning for quite a while before explosions scar the sky. And then it gets all moody and broody and tense again.

This album -- curiously not on the ECM New Series imprint which might have seemed its natural home -- is probably not for those who know Terje Rypdal's jazz work.

But if you spend any time on these pages at Elsewhere then this is perhaps an album of uneasy listening for you. 

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