The second album from Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad brings jazz sophistication to hard rock crunch | Bleader

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The second album from Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad brings jazz sophistication to hard rock crunch

Posted By on 06.20.13 at 04:55 PM

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Hedvig Mollestad Trio
  • Julia Naglestad
  • Hedvig Mollestad Trio
A couple of years I was taken by the debut album by Norway's Hedvig Mollestad Trio, who purvey a loud, hard-hitting instrumental jazz-rock fusion as lean as it is fierce. The group recently released its superb and satisfying second album All of Them Witches (Rune Grammofon), and while it strains credibility to really call it jazz, there's no missing that the group comes out of that tradition. When I wrote briefly about its debut album Shoot! I referenced the singular string-mangler Sonny Sharrock, but Mollestad has dialed back on the discord here: there's more than a touch of primo Black Sabbath in the trio's heavy grooves, which lumber elegantly when they don't swing violently, and at times the taut, tension-producing intervals, as on the album opener "Sing, Goddess"—which you can hear after the jump—remind me of a hyperactive Caspar Brötzmann. It all feels appealingly familiar, but the trio's concise hybrids sound all their own.

Drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad brings a wonderful post-John Bonham buoyancy to the heaviest of rhythms, turning every beefy tom stroke into floor-rumbling bomb without ever sounding leaden or graceless, and bassist Ellen Brekken—who plays both upright and electric—locks in with him masterfully, giving Mollestad the deepest, coziest, and most deafening pocket anyone could ask for. On "Achilles" or the brief "Shawshank" you can hear the guitarist's obvious jazz roots, with shades of Bill Frisell and John Scofield—albeit darkened, scuffed-up ones—emerging from her patient lines and tone, which can somehow erase the distance between meaty and ethereal. But more often the trio rides monster unison riffing, settles into some mad vibe and then lets its talented guitarist go to work. Most of her solos sound like lost gems from the classic hard rock canon but her jazz chops give her a stunning rhythmic fluency, melodic sophistication, and quiet harmonic splendor usually missing from hard rock.

Today's playlist:

Dick Katz, Piano & Pen (Atlantic, Japan)
Alvarius B., Baroque Primitiva (Abduction)
Elephant9, Live at the BBC (Rune Grammofon)
Armstrong Twins, Mandolin Boogie (Arhoolie)
Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings (Concord)

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