Sverre Gjørvad 4th of a quartet of albums ‘Here Comes The Sun’

Here Comes The Sun is the fourth of a tetralogy of albums to reflect the changing seasons. Voi River was a summerly album and Elegy of Skies brought an autumn mood, then Time to Illuminate Earth was dark and wintery (it suits, as in the high north, the sun actually is below the horizon for two months of the year). Looking forward Here Comes the Sun is an appropriate title for a spring album. Four albums with the same four musicians, recorded and mixed in the same studio, all released on the same label (and mastered by the same guy, too).

Cover photo by maxeilert

‘Birds Awake ‘ opens with the chirping of birds joined by bass, then piano and drums. Everything is simple sounding, strutting and made up of short bursts of a repeating phrase with only the guitar and piano occasionally adding anything resembling a melodic line. In some ways this reminded me of the album Entropy by Shugo Tokumaru but without the same childlike feel. There is the very short ‘Skumpa’, which starts out in free jazz style moves through to something more melodic and then ends. ‘Capers on Everything’ is led by guitarist Svalestad Olstad with good rhythm playing from the drums and bass. There is a vocal on this number all of which adds to the folk like feel of the number. The guitar sound has a European contemporary jazz sound to it and the accompanying piano playing adds some depth to the tune.

‘Faren Min’ opens with military style drumming that grows and becomes something more expansive. The piano and guitar come in with the melody, lyrical dance like in form, but very soon it disappears and there is nothing to take its place. ‘Prepare’ is the first of three tracks on the album that play beyond five minutes. As with much of what has been heard so far, the tune revolves around short repeating motifs, particularly from the piano. The guitar plays the tune, which has a raw edge to it, while the bass of Dag Okstad produces a nice line beneath it before moving in under the piano playing of Herborg Rundberg. There is the use of electronically produced sounds that I don’t really feel adds to the tune and in some ways distracts from the playing of the piano and bass.

‘If You Were A Melody’ is one of those exploratory sounding tunes. The piano beginning tentatively before becoming more assured of what is being played, an effect I rather like. There is nothing speculative about the rhythm provided by the drum and bass, which drive the tune forward and appear to give assurance to the piano player that he is on the right track. As a result the number grows in energy and volume through to its ending. ‘Round About’ sounds like a pianist practising scale runs with bass and drum in support. Although the variation in tempo creates an interesting effect it is not enough to distract the listener from the fact that this is repetitive phrasing too far.

‘And The Nutmeg’ stays with pianist and bass player Herborg Rundberg, Dag Okstad respectively with this slow burner of a number. This an engaging enough piece of writing but, as with ‘Prepare’, I do not feel that the added electronica is necessary. ‘Dagen Svinner’ has the guitar of Svalestad Olstad, with the support of the pianist, playing repeated phrases over a tight, repeating drum pattern until the electronics kick again but with the other musicians dropping out this time it works.

‘Dazzling Blue’ is a Paul Simon number and is played very simply and beautifully. The album finishes with ‘Voi River’ with its Latin vibe and the addition of the saxophone of Eirik Hegdal. The tune has an energy, a great rhythm, and the sax adds an additional layer of tonal colour to the number. There is some very enjoyable piano playing here and then the whole style changes to one with an American College marching band vibe. Thankfully that does not last too long and we get to hear more of the sax – that is until there is a style clash towards the end of the track that I did not feel worked.

This is a Losen Records album release, a record company I admire and whose output I look forward to hearing. Unfortunately, for me, Here Comes The Sun did not really hit the mark. There is an over reliance on short repeating phrases and many of the numbers felt as if they were in development and needed to be filled out and expanded on, in terms of length and depth. The addition of the sax on the final track made a real difference and perhaps that is all it would take to make this album better than it is – but, of course, that is only my opinion!

Musicians: Sverre Gjørvad – drums; Herborg Rundberg – piano; Dag Okstad – bass; Kristian Svalestad Olstad – guitar; Eirik Hegdal – saxophone on track 11.

Tracklist: 1. Birds Awake. 2. Skumpa. 3. Capers On Everything. 4. Faren Min. 5. Prepare. 6. If You Were A Melody. 7. Round About. 8. And The Nutmeg. 9. Dagen Svinner. 10. Dazzling Blue. 11. Voi River.

All compositions by Sverre Gjørvad, except ‘Faren Min’ by Ulf Risnes, ‘Dagen Svinner’ by Ivar Thomassen and ‘Dazzling Blue’ by Paul Simon.

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