Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Hedvig Mollestad - Ekhidna (Rune Grammofon, 2020)

Well regarded electric guitarist Hedvig Mollestad was given a commission to write original music for the 2019 Norwegian Vossajazz Festival. This led her to produce and record some some inspired music for a different group than her well regarded trio, a band consisting of Susana Santos Silva on trumpet, Torstein Lofthus on drums, Marte Eberson and Erlend Slettevoll on keyboards and synth and Ole Mofjell on percussion. "A Stone's Throw" has heavy hard rock riffing to open with some pummeling drums, and trumpet bubbling up. The pace is lightning fast for very exciting electric guitar and punchy trumpet over a bed of powerhouse drumming making for a potent performance. Yet the group is dynamic, stretching time and space like taffy, entering a psychedelic section that bends and curves appealingly. But the big guitar riffs are the bedrock that they return to, anchoring the music in the firmament. The music is rich and colorful, even more so with the addition of electric piano splashing neon around the scene, then returning to the main theme with a scalding guitar solo to lead us out. There is a towering electric guitar introduction to "Antilone," fast and urgent, leading into a rapid and chugging section with motoring drums and guitar, moving relentlessly forward like an avalanche or landslide. Sliva is given an opening for lush trumpet, that is enfolded into the overall action as lightning strikes of guitar emerge from the tumult. Raw peals of brass create new and interesting textures for the group to employ, as an interesting improvised section for rhythmic percussion and jabs of guitar breaks out. This leads back to a collective improvisation that is very impressive with the band staking out a type of prog/jazz that is very interesting and original, with Mollstead playing some just extraordinary guitar. "Ekhidna" has a stark and attention grabbing guitar theme, with the drums jumping in immediately, setting a heavy vibe, that is lightened by the trumpet. The music flirts with cinematic motifs, branching out into hand percussion and pinched trumpet leading into a very powerful Silva solo amid volcanic drums and percussion. They dynamically shift to a scene of abstract guitar and electronics with percussive interjections, which takes the bands improvisation in a completely new direction, before somehow finding their way back to the theme for a quick ending. This album worked very well, showing another side of Hedvig Mollestad's musical talent, demonstrating her compositional prowess along with her superhuman guitar playing. Ekhidna -

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