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Rypdal; Terje: Melodic Warrior

A new release from Terje Rypdal is always welcome, always challenging and always genre defying and so it is with Melodic Warrior, which houses two separate compositional pieces, of which neither are actually new.

Firstly and the main body of this album, comes a nine track 2003 recording which was commissioned by the British vocal group Hilliard Ensemble. From which Melodic Warrior takes its name and where the Bruckner Orchestra Linz also contribute greatly. Secondly are four tracks from six years further down the road, called And The Sky Was Coloured With Waterfalls And Angels, performed solely by Rypdal on guitar and Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra. For long term Rypdalites the long awaited release of this pair of pieces will be a reason to rejoice and it is plain, although not "easy" to hear why.

The forty five minutes which make up Melodic Warrior once more confirms Terje Rypdal as a completely original, almost incomparable artist, often described as "Jazz", but in truth here (as before) the combinations of his own searing guitar, plaintive orchestrations and the haunting vocal ensemble make for an otherworldly experience possibly best described as part opera, part world music, part soundtrack. It is the latter description which makes the most telling mark, as while there may be no visuals to accompany this piece, it was commissioned on the basis of providing a musical backing for texts drawn from Native American poetry from Chippewa, Navajo, Pima and Papago sources. The existence of silence is key in these texts and so fittingly that is how this creation begins, before the vocal contributions begin to soar and crash, weaving neatly with unresolved musical passages which clash the sounds of hope against the atmosphere of desolation. Jarring, uncompromising, yet oddly beguiling and beckoning all the same. The control, patience and understanding between all the different factions on display is stark, becoming the strength of a piece of music which perfectly paints aural pictures as intended. Rypdal content to punctuate his composition with his expert guitar play, rather than dominate it. Capping the restraint illustrated throughout to perfection.

Similar, yet brazenly different, the four movements which make up And The Sky... suddenly feel even more remote and almost dangerous through the lack of layerings of voices felt on the earlier piece. Obviously this allows the music to shine even more brightly. However again the feel is of a backdrop to events that you want to experience, the emotions evoked creating a true sense of awakening and beautiful isolation. The piece being inspired by the 2008 International Fireworks Festival in Cannes. Illustrating with precision the explosive, yet isolated and short lived bursts of beauty created there. Twenty five minutes worth of music sliding effortlessly between bombastic and explosive, and intense and searingly short lived.

These two disparate compositions could feel at odds with one another. Instead they complement each other in a way that actually heightens the pair. Most especially And The Sky..., which benefits greatly from following its grander, yet more claustrophobic disc mate.

Melodic Warrior isn't an easy journey. It was never meant to be, but it is an intense one, demanding your attention and rewarding it with a scope and beauty that is hard not to become en-wrapped in. The atmospheres and focuses swooping and diving from moment to moment. In lesser skilled hands it would be a disaster, however under Terje Rypdal's expert eye it is captivating and engrossing.

Track Listing
1. Melodic Warrior, Op. 79: Awakening
2. Melodic Warrior, Op. 79: Easy Now
3. Melodic Warrior, Op. 79: Song Of Thunders
4. Melodic Warrior, Op. 79: The Secret File
5. Melodic Warrior, Op. 79: My Music Reaches To The Sky
6. Melodic Warrior, Op. 79: But Then Again
7. Melodic Warrior, Op. 79: A Prayer
8. Melodic Warrior, Op. 79: Magician Song
9. Melodic Warrior, Op. 79: The Morning Star
10. And The Sky Was Coloured With Waterfalls And Angels, Op. 97: Waterfalls 1
11. And The Sky Was Coloured With Waterfalls And Angels, Op. 97: Waterfalls 2
12. And The Sky Was Coloured With Waterfalls And Angels, Op. 97: Waterfalls 3
13. And The Sky Was Coloured With Waterfalls And Angels, Op. 97: Waterfalls 4

Added: October 12th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: ECM Records
Hits: 2100
Language: english

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