Given what we're going through hour after battered hour in summer 2020, any artistic endeavor entitled Conspiracy just might be the last thing you'd want to get involved with. But Terje Rypdal, a true master for reaching beyond troubled layers and into the beating heart, offers a conspiracy of open anticipation and expansive terrains. When was the last time you heard that emanating from whatever your audio set up or streaming device of choice?
Like Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away (ECM, 1974), Odyssey (ECM, 1975) and After The Rain, (ECM, 1976), which brought his mercurial, orchestral Stratocaster to the fore of our eager attentions, Rypdal reaches into his own storied history and, by association, our own, to seek a broader clarity on how to cope with the new now (aka the old shite).
The disc starts with the familiar (but no less charged and expectant) rapid spatter of cymbals, opening the sonic door to far more expansive terrains, thus allowing us to breathe the new day in a dark story with bigger contemplations. Headier desires then those that belabor us daily. Then Rypdal enters "As If The Ghost...Was Me" as he has for over fifty years, a vaporous cloud of orchestral swirl with an old style fusion guitar bite and construct that holds your attention no matter the breaking news, tweet or blithering, babbling talking head.
In a time scant of leadership, Rypdal steps up and makes Conspiracy, the title track, a 360 degree hairpin from the meditative, rubato expressionism of "What Was I Thinking" to a crushing, balls to the wall stadium-sized puncher that everyone on board lends a decisive hand to. As drummer/percussionist Pål Thowsen fiercely manhandles his kit, bassist Endre Hareide Hallre's fretless throb and keyboardist Ståle Storløkken's angry jabs interlace and inspire Rypdal to revelries reminiscent of his brief work with drummer Audun Kleive and bassist Bjørn Kjellemyr on Chaser (ECM, 1985) and Blue(ECM, 1986). On clouds of keyboards and a melodious free-floating bass, "By His Lonesome" returns with an ambient impressionism, leads " Baby Beautiful" to a space of mercurial lyricism and squall. A standout not only for 2020 but also in Rypdal's storied canon.
As If The Ghost…Was Me; What Was I Thinking; Conspiracy; By His Lonesome; Baby Beautiful;
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