Without the great label ECM, where would we get wonderful little esoteric gems like this project from guitarist Terje Rypdal, bassist Miroslav Vitous, and drummer Jack DeJohnette? Probably nowhere, as ECM literally has a hold of the market when it comes to dark, ambient jazz recordings that come as close to progressive rock as possible without leaving the jazz realm. This album, originally recorded and released in 1979, contains six long pieces of experimentation that take the listener on a dark journey through deep space. The sound is crystal clear, the performances restrained, yet effective.
Rypdal’s guitar work is especially pleasing throughout this CD, although those expecting his McLaughlin inspired fret-burning may be a bit disappointed. Here, he goes more for texture, as his yearning guitar and guitar synthesizer lines caress the soul on tracks like “Sunrise” and “Will” instead of amaze the senses. Vitous, whose work with Weather Report and Chick Corea will long be remembered, adds healthy doses of bowed double bass on “Den Forste Sne”, sounding more like a violin than anything else, but creates a mournful mood nonetheless. On this song, his tortured lines give way to dense melodic solos from Rypdal, whose guitar is seemingly crying to be heard above the nimble percussion of the veteran DeJohnette. “Believer” has Rypdal lashing out jagged guitar melodies ala Jeff Beck over Vitous’ pounding acoustic bass grooves in what can best be called controlled improvisation at its best. On the quirky “Flight” Vitous duels his violin-like solos with Rypdal’s acrobatic and dissonant guitar barrages before the two let DeJohnette have some solo time on his own. The best however is saved for last on “Seasons”, a total prog meltdown that can best be explained as themes from Pink Floyd’s album Animals on acid and from another dimension. Rypdal’s guitar synthesizer washes are quite menacing, and with the added keyboard soundscapes, wah-wah and bowed bass, this is the most trippy sounding piece on an otherwise dense jazz package.
This is one of those recordings that you might not get the first listen, or even the second, but in the long run it provides many pleasures that will warm your soul and get the imagination going. For three huge players in the jazz world, this turned out to be an important summit that yielded some great music.