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Album Review

Nadje Noordhuis: Gullfoss


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Nadje Noordhuis: Gullfoss
There's a beyond-category beauty emanating from trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis' Gullfoss. Recorded live at Musig im Pflegidach in Switzerland, inspired by the splendors of nature in their many forms, and showcasing the breathtaking work of an incomparable ensemble, it plays like a warm and inviting refuge for the ears and soul.

Painting aural pictures befitting natural wonders is no easy feat, but Noordhuis and her well-chosen bandmates are more than up to the challenge here. Sympathetic to one another, and cognizant of the sensitivity required, these musicians make for a wholly compatible crew. Noordhuis, working magic with trumpet and flugelhorn, casts spells in sonic purity; harpist Maeve Gilchrist, guitarist Jesse Lewis and bassist Ike Sturm bring glimmering suggestions with strings; and multi-hyphenate James Shipp, offering tastefully atmospheric sheens with synthesizers and supportive underscoring with drums and percussion, accentuates the core sentiments at play.

In the case of the title track, which closes out the album, Noordhuis' reverberant brass voice is carried along on a stylishly scuttling undercurrent that's surrounded by glowing or undulating strings. It's exhilarating as it unfolds and absolutely profound as it fades away, eventually leaving light alone to reflect on the nature of water. The seven tracks preceding that performance are equally enthralling. "Migration," marrying a gravity-free ECM aesthetic with new age allure, sets the tone and scene for the production; "Indian Pacific," with Gilchrist's gently galloping harp tracing the borders around Noordhuis, plays as an engrossing journey by rail; "Waratah" quietly lends musical shape to the Australian endemic tree of the same name; and "Silverpoint" seduces with its hypnotic introductions and rocking outro.

When Gullfoss originally saw release as part of a box set from boutique vinyl label Newvelle Records, those first four performances, sequenced to fill out Side A of the record, came to an obvious and forced pause at their end. Now, with this wider digital release, everything moves unimpeded, with both halves coming together cleanly as one. "Killarney," directly following "Silverpoint," balances gentle tidings and weighted grooves. "Seven Miles" plays like an elegant poem on hopes and dreams. "Laneway" offers lulling thoughts and concision. And the aforementioned title track guides the listener to a misty and magical conclusion.

Most pricey limited edition vinyl releases, while worthwhile purchases for the devoted, tend to live in a state obscurity. So thank heaven this album can now find a wider audience beyond the turntable. With the arrival of the digital edition of Gullfoss, the most underappreciated gem of 2019 now holds status as the prettiest album to surface in 2021.

Track Listing

Migration; Indian Pacific; Waratah; Silver Point; Killarney; Seven Miles; Laneway; Gullfoss.


Nadje Noordhuis: trumpet; Maeve Gilchrist: harp; Jesse Lewis: guitar; Ike Sturm: bass; James Shipp: percussion.

Album information

Title: Gullfoss | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Little Mystery Records

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