Liner notes very elaborately explain the main musical concept that defines guitarist Thomas Dahl's first release with his own band, Quilter. Layers. Phrases are introduced by one instrument, then picked up and turned around by another while soaring guitar cries enter and find accompaniment by polyrhythmic percussion on drums. Though, here, accompanying doesn't only go in one direction; each instrument is an equal partner in these eight highly-engaging conversations, and everything builds up on each other. As a sideman to acclaimed players such as his countryman Mats Eilertsen, Dahl has learned and adapted the art of quiet seduction and uses this quartet to demonstrate just how far one motif can go in the hands of four musicians and seven minutes.
Bitches Brew vibes are very prominent on the bass driven "Hermit." Two intervals, a minor second and subsequent fifth, are the substance of the bass line which finds its counterpoint in an offbeat, triplet-rich melody introduced by guitar and piano in unison. Cymbal scratches and block voicings on piano make this atmospheric opening of the album an engaging exercise in spatial management. Even though prominent in the mix, it is clear from the start, that this album in no way tries to show off the leader's technical skills on guitar but rather demonstrates the democratic fashion in which the quartet develop their interplay. "A Wall" picks up the pace a bit and introduces a more elaborate harmonic dimension to the music. The triplet-rich melodies, performed in unison by the Norwegian guitarist and his harmonic counterpart on piano, Harmen Fraanje, turn out to be a recurring rhetorical device.
The concept doesn't crucially change on the well-thought-out measures that follow, but experiences extensions; "Ballestre" has a freer attitude before a wistful coda gathers the group back together. "So and So" and "Dice" are more playfully tempered and arranged in a deconstructed manner before leading back to the more through-composed sketches, "Rad 3310" and the title track, thereby bringing the album to a somewhat closed loop. The final cut, "Procession," works as a swift epilogue that quietly reflects on the large amount of information that has just come to pass.
On Quilter, Thomas Dahl not only successfully introduces his very promising band Court but also demonstrates a keen ear for understated grooves and thematically-sophisticated composing. A force to be reckoned with.
Track Listing: Hermit; A Wall; Ballestre; So and So; Dice; Rad 3310; Quilter; Procession
Personnel: Thomas T Dahl: guitar; Harmen Franje: piano; Magne Thormodsaeter: bass; Håkon Mjåset Johansen: drums
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