536

Knut Reiersrud: Gitar

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
So much has been written about the Nordic sound that it's easy to forget, for most Norwegians—like anyone else—that their roots don't lay entirely within the tradition of their own country. In the case of the normally far-from-reticent Knut Reiersrud and the aptly titled Gitar, there are trace elements of traditional British folk music, the blues, Ry Cooder, acoustic tap-masters like Michael Hedges and more, but the result is a masterful album of gentle beauty, with Reiersrud's inestimable talents subsumed into a calming quietude.

"Bring a bunch of different guitars to the studio, sit down with a cup of Italian grind and play soft and relaxed," instructed producer/Jazzland label head/keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft, who also plays on five of these largely original eleven tracks. Wesseltoft, one of Nu Jazz's founding fathers, has always proven to be capable of virtually anything, and here he helps create a soft, near-ambient vibe on the opening "Mohan Vina," where Reiersrud's overdubbed mix of Indian lap steel and bowed baritone guitar is bolstered by Wesseltoft's soft cushion of Fender Rhodes, setting a soft pace for what's to come. Rhodes figures prominently also on "The Hook," a ten-minute improv that, with drummer Andreas Bye's spare back beat, suggests how John Lee Hooker might sound, were he alive today and playing chill-out music.

It's an eclectic set of material, joined together by the tranquil vibe that arcs over the entire album. The mellow gospel tinge of "Low Swing" recalls, in the subtlest of ways, 1970s groove groups like Stuff, with Reiersrud's layering bluesy bends and singable melodies over Wesseltoft's Hammond organ and finger snaps. A combination of tapping and slapping the strings of his Japanese K'Yari guitar allows Reiersrud to emulate a hammered dulcimer, with Wesseltoft's synth expanding the soundscape, while on "Magnolia," trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer sits in on what's essentially an in-the-moment improv over a series of four chords played by Reiersrud on a resonant, drop-tuned 12-string acoustic guitar. The same instrument is used on Skip James' "Hard Times Killing Floor," but Reiersrud's laidback vocal—the only one on the disc—and unusual chord voicings bring an altogether different vibe to this blues standard.

As much as the added collaborations on eight of the tracks give Gitar greater depth, Reiersrud is just as compelling on his own. A gentle tremolo, applied to his D-tuned Fender Esquire creates a satiny cushion for Reiersrud's overdubbed resonator guitar, while on "Gorrlausen," the album's most fervent track, Reiersrud references the Norwegian traditional fiddle tuning for an unaccompanied miniature as impressive for its restraint as for its confident virtuosity.

Gitar may be understated, but it's a masterwork nevertheless; an album that, after just missing the boat for 2009 "best of" lists, remains an early contender for the new year.

Track Listing: Mohan Vina; Eleanor Cross; Hard Time Killing Floor; Magnolia; Gorrlausen; Tamil; The Hook; Waltz; Low Swing; Spanking the Plank; Epilog.

Personnel: Knut Reiersrud: guitars, voice (3); Bugge Wesseltoft: Fender Rhodes electric piano and Hammond B-3 organ (1, 7, 9), Prophet 08 synth (10), piano (11); Nils Petter Molvaær: trumpet (4); Javid Afsari Rad: santour (6); Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen: bass (7); Andreas Bye: drums (7).

Title: Gitar | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Jazzland Recordings


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Poetry from the Future" CD/LP/Track Review Poetry from the Future
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 5, 2017
Read "Song of the Free Will" CD/LP/Track Review Song of the Free Will
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 16, 2016
Read "Live at the Stone: Megaloprepus Caerulatus" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Stone: Megaloprepus Caerulatus
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Quinsin Nachoff's Ethereal Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Quinsin Nachoff's Ethereal Trio
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 10, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.