Nightscape is the fifth full studio release from the Norwegian outfit led by drummer and multi-instrumentalist Arild BrÝter and a mightily enjoyable piece of work it is too. The seven instrumental pieces on offer meld a range of styles from classic synth driven symphonic prog to diamond bright jazz in an effortless kaleidoscope of musical delight.
In the words of the band, this album aims to build on the previous outings by introducing more traditional song-based structures taking inspiration from 20th century pop music while also exploring more cinematic textures. The opener Wide Awake explores an early hours infusion of consciousness, resolving itself into a joyous multi-part workout of contrasting styles. Throughout the album, I particularly enjoyed the use of Marie Fearvaag's ethereal saxophone as a counterpoint to heavy and funky guitar, and this is particularly evident both here and on the second track Gabagool whose traditional sounding proggy organ intro belies the funk workout which develops. Sometimes you know when a band are having a ball and just letting it rip, and this is certainly the case here and on Ghost Notes, the longest track on the album, and if that one doesn't put a smile on your face and get your toes tapping with its extended guitar and keyboard groove, duelling with spaced out sax and heavy bass riffs, then you can check yourself into a home for the musically moribund. Tofana 10am and Road Movie both explore an expanding soundscape with the latter providing a rich tapestry of swelling accompaniment to Fearvaag's sinuous work. The closer, Silver Arrow initially sounds like an elegiac postscript, but typical of the surprising directions taken by the pieces on this collection, it diverts through heavy beats into a spiritual guitar solo and an electronic coda.
Nightscape is not just an album for the dark hours, while its chameleon like changes sketch out the variety of moods from uplifting abandonment to the wistfulness of lives glimpsed through uncurtained windows, it leaves the listener, as it introduces itself with a sense of freshness and awakening. This is certainly an album to be savoured and welcome on my sound system at any time, not just the dark hours.
**** Andrew Cottrell
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