The Nordic Fusion of BoogiePost Recordings

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Swedish, Copenhagen-based guitarist Samuel Hällkvist and Swedish, Gothenburg-based guitarist Thomas Gunillasson suggest two different perspectives on the legacy of fusion on their new recordings, one reaches for infinite, futuristic sounds and the other is rooted in fusion technical legacy.

Samuel Hällkvist
Variety of Live
BoogiePost Recordings

When Hällkvist took his dream team, the Variety of Loud ensemble—King Crimson's drummer Pat Mastelotto (here on traps and buttons), Pink Floyd's sideman-bassist Guy Pratt and Danish vocalist Qarin Wikström and drummer Stefan Pasborg—to a short Nordic tour in February 2014 he found out how stressful is to be the tour manager and the lead guitarist at the same time. It took him a year to return to to the recorded live material and to begin editing it, overdubbing it with recordings of guest musicians.

It is difficult to know at the end of this tasking, alchemical process what was played live on stage, what was recorded later on or gone through some editing at the studio and it is not that important. Hällkvist succeeded to create multi-layered, hybrid textures that encompass elements of improvised modern jazz—adding recordings of British trumpeter Yazz Ahmed and saxophonist Denys Baptiste—with futuristic fusion and prog-rock dramas without the hyper-bombastic show-off. The nine short pieces still sound urgent and restless despite the intricate editing process, burning with surprising, experimental spirit. The driving rhythms of Pasborg blend masterfully with Mastelotto sampled funky beats, expanding the rhythmic spectrum with alien and Gamelan-tinged percussive sounds; Wikström eerie wordless vocals, together with the voices of the Japanese duo Mocako Asano and Yukiko Taniguchi charge the pieces with a mysterious aroma and the keyboards of Richard Barbieri (from Japan and Porcupine Tree groups) expand the sound pallette with sizzling electronica.

Hällkvist acts as a leader that opts to be the one sets the pulse and the loose envelopes of the soundscapes, adding tastefully his genre-bind touches that updates the legacies of guitar heroes such as Robert Fripp and Phil Manzanera. His clever, almost unassuming playing and short solos on pieces like "Klopotec," "Heru Ra-ha/Road" and "Spooky Country" alternates between setting the infectious, tight rhythm and sketching skeletal atmospheric riffs that outline the cinematic narrative.

Highly recommended.

Beyond Horizons
BoogiePost Recordings

The Thymeshift quartet features the Swedish, Gothenburg-based trio of guitarist Thomas Gunillasson, drummer Johan Björklund and sax and clarinetist Thomas Backman with Icelander guitarist Hilmar Jensson, recorded its debut album already in 2012. The quartet toured this year to celebrate the release of Beyond Horizons.

This democratic quartet focuses on most of the pieces on complex, even eccentric dynamics with shifting, driving rhythms, never settles on conventional pattern. But its creative powers really shine is when it changes course and pulse, gives up of demonstrating its musicians technical wizardry and suggests instead intriguing cinematic soundscapes as on "Screeem," "The One," "Ouchdown" and "Downtouch." Then the inventive, highly personal vocabulary of guitarists Gunillasson and Jensson and their emphatic interplay sounds larger than the sum of their own voices alone. There are few pieces when the saxophonist Backman rages into fiery free improvisation like "Två dagar," but he lacks a sympathetic rhythmic support for such wild forays.

Unbalanced debut, still, promises a great potential.

Tracks and Personnel Variety of Live

Tracks: Greyer Melange; Chord: Horror Vacui; Mirror Garden; Klopotec; Heru Ra-ha/Road; Music For The Maraca Triplet; In Transfer; Spooky Country; Cluck Old Hen.
Personnel: Samuel Hällkvist: guitars, devices, MIDI programming; Pat Mastelotto: traps & buttons; Qarin Wikström: voice, keyboards; Guy Pratt: bass; Stefan Pasborg: drums. special guests: Richard Barbieri: keyboards, synthesizers, programming; Mocako Asano: voice; Yazz Ahmed: trumpet; Denys Baptiste: saxophone; Yukiko Taniguchi: voice.

Tracks and PersonnelBeyond Horizons

Tracks: Touchdown; Lost in transaction; Busat; Screeem; The One; Ett slags därifrån; Ouchdown; Två dagar; Sing; SSSS; Thymeshift; Vila-Seca; Downtouch. br/>Personnel: Johan Björklund: drums, zither; Thomas Gunillasson: guitars, laptop; Hilmar Jensson: guitars; Thomas Backman: saxophones, clarinet.

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