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Westgaard / Hernandez / Strid: The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn

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Westgaard / Hernandez / Strid: The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn
The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn is a compelling exploration of free improvisation and acoustic sounds. The album, recorded in a single day in Gävle, Sweden, features Hein Westgaard on acoustic steel string guitar, Katt Hernandez on violin and Raymond Strid on drums. It dives into a rich soundscape that merges elements of hypnotic folk motifs, chamber music and abstract sonic territories, creating a unique listening experience that feels both adventurous and deeply personal.

The music draws inspiration from a lesser-known Brothers Grimm story, using the magical and transformative powers of the story's objects to parallel the trio's exploration of sound. Westgaard aimed to investigate the delicate possibilities of acoustic improvisation, where the percussiveness of the drums and the sustained notes of the violin and guitar find a harmonious balance.

This stripped-down, three-piece collaboration weaves together elements of Nordic folk, experimental music and a touch of free jazz, creating an intimate and mesmerizing soundscape. Moments of pizzicato violin and gentle guitar strumming create a sense of intimacy, while sudden bursts of frantic improvisation inject a dose of raw energy. The trio masterfully navigates between these contrasting elements, building tension and releasing it with effortless grace.

"Ouverture" is a piece improvised with subtle dialogues, Strid's colorful use of his cymbal's bells, and asymmetrical drumming. It is a quiet storm with sonorous inflections, escalated by Hernandez's fervent staccato lines and the trio's noise-shaping mini-motifs. The musicians build a dramatic climax, bringing the music back down to earth. However, "Al's Cowboy Verkleidet" begins with Westgaard's folk-like chord voicings, contrasted by the violinist's soloing. On all tracks, Strid's resonating drums add impact and depth. Moreover, their modus operandi elicits notions of methodically compiling an abstract painting akin to Kandinsky or Pollock's output.

Westgaard's involvement in a variety of musical projects, from the genre-bending Hein Westgaard Trio to conceptual sound art with Ensemble Ektos, and Hernandez's extensive background in free experimental music scenes across the U.S., along with Strid's significant impact on free improvised drumming in Scandinavia, contribute to the album's diverse and rich auditory palette.

In sum, this outing is not just an exploration of sound but a demonstration of how three distinct musical voices can come together to create something unexpected and strangely attractive.

Track Listing

Hörnlein; Ouvertüre; Sack; Ranzen; Hütlein; Knap; Hathörn; Als Cowboy Verkleidet; Koda.

Personnel

Album information

Title: The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Gotta Let It Out


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