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Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen

Tempest Revisited

Tempest Revisited

UPC: 7033662022236

Format: LP

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Tempest Revisited marks the third full-length release by guitarist, composer, and bandleader Hedvig Mollestad in 18 months. 2020's wonderful Ekhidna showcased her leading a sextet, while Ding Dong. You're Dead, released in March 2021, was credited to her longstanding trio with bassist Ellen Brekken and drummer Ivar Loe Bjornstad. By turns, Tempest Revisited offers music adapted from a 2018 performance inspired by the 20th anniversary of Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim's masterwork ballet The Tempest, and it also reflects the heavy weather that occurs in Ålesund, Mollestad's birthplace. The large group recording offers two drummers, bass, vibraphone, reeds, and winds. Mollestad sings, plays piano and guitar, and produces. Musically, this marks her most diverse and dynamic release with its many moods, shades, and textures.
Opener "Sun on a Dark Sky" commences with an elliptical flute, rumbling tympani, and Mollestad's looped, multi-layered, electronically treated voice in chorus before her fingerpicked guitar enters solo, playing a circular pattern before she's joined by alto saxophone and electric piano. The jazz head winds around her guitar playing and the entire ensemble eventually ratchets up the intensity. Here prog rock and jazz come together to sound like mid-'70s-era Soft Machine. It segues directly into "Winds Approaching," introduced by handclaps, skittering tom-toms, and three saxes playing in tandem. Mollestad offers the melody on guitar as flute and vibes insert themselves. The entire band enters to drop a heavy rockist vamp, framing a solo by tenorist Peter Erik Vergeni atop Mollestad's shard-like chord voicings. "Kittiwakes Gusts" recalls Frank Zappa's glorious mid- to late-'70s bands with a chorus of swinging horns, rumbling, funky electric bass, and a shuffling drum kit layered with jagged breaks. Mollestad lays out a lyric solo drenched in reverb and delay before alto and tenor saxes -- also saturated in delay -- return to solo against her and one another. "418 (Stairs in Storms)" is performed like a suite. The effects-laden guitar plays a long, restrained, droning intro, nearly ambient in its laconic delivery. Cymbals and drums enter at four-and-a-half minutes, followed by bass, vibes, and saxes, all playing a gently repetitive theme. Just as a rumbling intensity asserts itself, Mollestad's solo goes the other way. Adorned by keys and pillowy reverb, she delivers a long, emotionally moving solo redolent of mentor and countryman Terje Rypdal. As the rhythm sections buoys her, it threatens power trio interplay, then morphs -- unrealized -- into the rocking, bluesy closer "High Hair." Its central riff, offered by horns and bass playing jazz-funk, frames a dark, knotty guitar progression. The entire band reassembles on the deep blue vamp with bass and alto solos juxtaposed against breaking snares, careening electric piano, and Mollestad's edgy power chords resulting in an explosive conclusion. Tempest Revisited seamlessly twins harmonic lyricism, soundscape textures, and powerful dynamics here. The end result is her most diverse -- and musically compelling -- album. ~ Thom Jurek

Tracks:

1 - Sun on a Dark Sky
2 - Winds Approaching
3 - Kittiwakes in Gusts
4 - 418 [Stairs in Storms]
5 - High Hair