The Michael Aadal Group have previously released two albums on Losen Records. Abigail in 2013 and Pomona in 2016. Following a minor change of personnel and as the newly-named Aadal, the quartet released two albums on another label before returning to Losen Records. And so, it is as Aadal, that they here deliver the Voyager.
‘Atlantis’ opens with the relaxed guitar sound of Michael Aadal before the rest of the quartet join in and play a repeating phrase with the variation coming from drummer Gunnar Sæter. The blend of guitar and sax creates a wonderful warm tone on this statement of style. The album title track, ‘Voyager’, is delivered in ¾ time with a relaxed melodic line and two good solo spots from Aadal and Kassen. Gunnar Sæter introduces ‘Aftermath’ with washes of cymbal before the ensemble come together to move the theme on. The sax solo on this number is an absolute delight to listen to as it soars above the supporting guitar and rhythm section.
‘Oceans Apart’ begins with another gentle guitar introduction, before moving on to another laid back melody that gently flows from start to finish. The overall sound does capture the wistfulness of being oceans apart, which is emotionally engaging. ‘Red Sky’ gives us a chance to hear bassist Audun Ramo who plays some wonderful note choices against the guitar lines of Aadal on this effective trio outing. ‘Longing’ opens with an improvised sounding sax section from Kassen. This track has a very different sound to what has been heard so far: more exploratory, freer but still within the restrained sound profile the listener may have come to expect.
‘No Smoke Without Fire’ is another fine example of how well the guitar of Michael Aadal and sax of André Kassen work together. Kassen plays some delightful rising notes that fall back to reveal the guitar sound beneath. ‘Lighthouse’ features a wonderfully spacious guitar solo from Aadal accompanied by injections of sound from drummer Sæter. Ramo on bass also gets to solo with a delicate touch before the sax of Kassen comes back in with the gentle melody that builds as it takes the track to its conclusion. ‘Winescapes’ brings Voyager to a close with the now characteristic guitar sound of Michael Aadal and the tonal colouration of André Kassen.
On the album’s Bandcamp page is written the following:
The music of Aadal is a unique amalgam of typical Scandinavian melancholy and more Americana inspired soundscapes with an always present melody.
This pretty much sums up the album. The music is captivating, enchanting, and, at times, sorrowful and it is really only on repeated listening does its intricacies reveal themselves. It is also very well performed with intimate and relaxed guitar work from Michael Aadal, some excellent solo sax work from Kassen, and a very good rhythm section that holds it all together. Across the album the music ebbs and flows but the overall sound profile is rather flat, which in many ways makes it an ideal sound to relax and wallow in.
Voyager is available now through Bandcamp as a digital download and stream, it is also available through the streaming service qobuz.
Musicians: Michael Aadal – guitar; André Kassen – saxophone; Audun Ramo – bass; Gunnar Sæter – drums.
Tracklist: 1. Atlantis. 2. Voyager. 3. Aftermath. 4. Oceans Apart. 5. Red Sky. 6. Longing. 7. No Smoke Without Fire. 8. Lighthouse. 9. Winescapes.