All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Solveig Slettahjell / Slow Motion Orchestra: Tarpan Seasons

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
From a simple idea, great things can sometimes come. When Solveig Slettahjell formed Slow Motion Orchestra for a 2001 performance that became the 15-piece group's eponymous first recording on Norway's Curling Legs, the premise was simple: take a collection of songs from the Great American Songbook, and slow them down. Way down. But over the course of three albums and an eye-opening performance at Kristiansand's 2007 Punkt Festival, the Norwegian singer and her trimmed-down quintet proved that slow, powerful and dramatic need not be mutually exclusive terms.

The trimmed-down Slow Motion Quintet has since released four additional albums, most recently Domestic Songs (ACT, 2007), where SMQ continued a fundamental shift away from the cover material of its first three discs with greater emphasis on original songs by Slettahjell, keyboardist Morten Qvenild (In the Country, Susanna and The Magical Orchestra) and engineer/occasional co- producer Peder Kjellsby. Tarpan Seasons renames SMQ back into Slow Motion Orchestra, and for good reason. The quintet—intact since inception, with the exception of Jo Berger Myhre (Splashgirl) taking over the bass chair from Mats Eilertsen (Tord Gustavsen, Jacob Young)—is now a septet featuring newcomers Andreas Ulvo (Eple Trio, Mathias Eick Quartet) and Even Hermansen (Bushman's Revenge).

The addition of organ and guitar in no way affects Tarpan Seasons' appealing blend of the ethereal and the grounded. SMO still avoids anything resembling a fast clip, but it does thunder along more mightily in spots. Drummer Per Oddvar Johansen (The Source, Christian Wallumrød Ensemble) pushes the pulsing second half of "Your River" with some tribal toms, driving the first half of the same song with a gentle, balladic backbeat. Elsewhere he plays it soft and straight on the slightly off-kilter David Lynch-ian waltz of "December Song."

A key contributor to SMO's overall sound, hornist Sjur Miljeteig (Crimetime Orchestra, Hilde Marie Kjersem) is less plainly dominant in an expanded line-up that, other than Slettahjell's definitive voice, is more about collective sound rather than individuality. His layered horns create, along with Ulvo, Hermansen and and Qvenild, a lush backdrop for Slettahjell's velvety voice. As the primary songwriter, what gives her music its weight is a dynamic ebb and flow that, in lesser hands, would be handled with unnecessary bravado and melisma. Instead, Slettahjell impresses as much by what she doesn't sing as what she does. And on the brief, layered vocal feature of "You Go I Go," she proves as understated in the depth of her prose as she is her nuanced, ever- soulful delivery.

Departing from its jazzier roots into a kind of dreamy, subtly skewed pop music, Tarpan Seasons continues to work a concept that could be shtick, but in the hands of Slettahjell and Slow Motion Orchestra, has already proven its lasting value. With trace elements ranging from American roots music, singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits, and progressive pop fare like Sigur Rós—all refracted through a selfless Nordic prism—the warmly inviting but quirkily intriguing Tarpan Seasons is Slettahjell's most personal and fully realized album to date.

Track Listing: Precise Content; The Ballad of Jimmy Crawler; Your River; How They Shine; Right as Rain; December Song; Three Hearts in a Bowl; Into the Night; Visit; You Go I Go; Be Steady; A Day.

Personnel: Solveig Slettahjell: vocals; Sjur Miljeteig: trumpet, alto and barytone horns, electronics, vocals; Even Hermansen: guitar, vocals; Morten Qvenild: grand piano, synthesizers, harps, marxophone, programming, vocals; Andreas Ulvo: organ, vocals; Jo Berger Myhre: bass, baritone guitar, vocals; Per Oddvar Johansen: drums, percussion, electronics, musical saw, vocals.

Title: Tarpan Seasons | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Universal Music Norway


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles


Curling Legs



Universal Music Norway



Curling Legs

Tarpan Seasons

Tarpan Seasons

Universal Music Norway


Related Articles

Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read All Melody CD/LP/Track Review
All Melody
by Phil Barnes
Published: March 23, 2018
Read The Future is Female CD/LP/Track Review
The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Hunters & Scavengers CD/LP/Track Review
Hunters & Scavengers
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow CD/LP/Track Review
Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Transatlantic CD/LP/Track Review
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 22, 2018
Read "Right Up On" CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman" CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read "The Future is Female" CD/LP/Track Review The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "Miles Goes Wes" CD/LP/Track Review Miles Goes Wes
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Live In London" CD/LP/Track Review Live In London
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 8, 2017
Read "On The Way Downtown: Recorded Live On FolkScene" CD/LP/Track Review On The Way Downtown: Recorded Live On FolkScene
by Doug Collette
Published: October 28, 2017