Henrik Olsson: Hand of Benediction

Glenn Astarita By

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This is the trio's debut recording led by cagey and inventive Swedish guitarist Henrik Olsson for a set that resides in an opaque realm, containing dabs of free jazz, punk jazz and avant-garde rock. The agile and limber trio ventures through some enigmatic musical territory via tight unison phrasings, multipart progressions, animated and linear uprisings along with crunching rock riffs and fleeting nods to classic jazz fusion.

"Shocking method restores lost hair" sounds like a séance with Harry Houdini, using what appears to be an old radio broadcast. Here, the trio improvises in the free zone and discombobulates everything by wreaking havoc amid ghostly interactions with the broadcaster's creepy iterations. During other works the musicians execute schizoid breakouts, escalated by Rune Lohse's flailing drum work and Jeppe Skovbakke's busy bass lines. Meanwhile, Olsson is apt to terrorize his guitar on a nanosecond's notice.

"Black Tourmaline" features guest artist Julie Kjær's gleeful flute passages, as the main theme is transformed into a fervent progressive rock groove, driven by the guitarist's molten licks, angst-ridden tirades, angular movements and propelling support from guest musician, tubaist Kristian Tangvik. "Harmony" is just the opposite, due to the band's foreboding motifs, where a dark cloud hovers above the bassist's agile patterns and the drummer's jagged beats. Eventually, all hell breaks loose, sparked by Olsson's sliding and grinding riffs.

The musicians' diversified track mix sets this album apart from may similar undertakings, along with hints of melody and umpteen ways to attack a largely renegade adventure with cohesive statements and even a few memorable melodies. No doubt, the band gets out of the gate with a bang. Hopefully, more goodness is still to come.

Track Listing: Aventurine; N.H.F.T.P.H.O.B.; Shocking method restores lost hair; Collect in a bowl, let the afflicted person drink; The Voynich manuscript; Hilarious moments; Black Tourmaline; Harmony; Udug; Embroider it upon black satin and say: "9s¯!(z>W!*#1&/H."

Personnel: Henrik Olsson: electric guitar; Jeppe Skovbakke: electric bass/double bass; Rune Lohse: drums; Julie Kjær: flute/bass clarinet; Kristian Tangvik: tuba.

Title: Hand of Benediction | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Barefoot Records


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