Daniel Herskedal's third release for Edition Records is no less intriguing than his first two, Slow Eastbound Train (2015) and The Roc (2017). It's tempting to summarise the album as "pastoral," but there's a lot more to it than that solitary adjective. Granted, tunes like "The Horizon" and "Molly Hunt's Seagulls" really are pastoral, dreamlike, and evocative of the nautical imagery central to the album's theme.
But "Batten Down The Hatches," the opener, is no tranquil outing. Herskedal's tuba combines the roles of a resonant bass and a lead instrument. A deeply pulsating rhythm is established, which Bergmund Waal Skaslien's viola elegantly weaves over.
Pianist and fellow Norwegian Eyolf Dale contributes delicate cascades of notes to the reflective "Cut And Run." Pizzicato viola coupled with Maher Mahmoud's oud on "The Mediterranean Passage In The Age Of Refugees" creates yet another sonic dimension. Mahmoud adds another helping of Middle Eastern- inflected piquancy on "Rescue-At-Sea Operations." Helge Andreas Norbakken is another essential member of the group, mixing in subtle percussive color on numbers such as "The Gulls Are Tossed Paper In The Wind" and "Chatham Dockyard." Punchy, brass-heavy introductions on tune like George Wallington's "Godchild" invite interesting comparisons with Miles Davis's Birth Of The Cool (Capitol, 1957).
Herskedal's rich, booming sound is unlike anything else. The deeply sonorous, plangent melody on "The Lighthouse" is also a reminder of his compositional talent. If one tune needed to epitomise the extraordinary nature of this album, it might be the plaintive "The Great Race, Padua Vs Passat." With Voyage Herskedal manages to combine a natural heaviness with great sensitivity.
Batten Down The Hatches; Cut And Run; The Mediterranean Passage In The Age Of Refugees; The
Great Race, Padua Vs Passat; Chatham Dockyard;
The Horizon; The Gulls Are Tossed Paper In The Wind; Molly Hunt's Seagulls; Rescue-At-Sea
Operations; The Lighthouse.
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