Have you ever had a layered shot, where all these seemingly incompatible alcohols, all at different densities, sit one on top of the other in a single shot glass? Well, have you ever had that shit poured into you ear? That’s the music of Samuel Hällkvist. The idea? Build music layer upon layer to see what develops, watch and see how these flavours morph and change, and eventually, develop it into something you never dreamed could exist. This is the Bloody Mary, Long Island Iced Tea, and B-52 of instrumental music. Don’t worry, you can trust Hällkvist as your barman and chemist folks, he understands the craft. Others may blow off their hands, but this dude is making fucking fireworks.
There’s a mess of great musicians included in on this jam like David Torn on guitar (who worked with the likes of Bowie, Tori Amos, John Legend), Yasuhiro Yoshigaki (Zorn and Otomo Yoshihide), not to mention the man himself worked on one of my favourite jazz albums of 2017 in Yazz Ahmed’s La Saboteuse. There are twelve very distinguished musicians all throwing their hands in together on this shit. It’s the top brass of the brass throwing their paint onto a canvas. Sometimes it’s out there but, most of all, it’s beautiful and cerebral as balls.
Hällkvist plays guitar as if Zappa, Roky Erickson (The 13th Floor Elevators), Sun Ra and Hendrix made a lovechild and gave that child a brand new loop machine for its birthday. Sweet mother Mary and Joseph, it can be out there at times. But Hällkvist keep things grounded. He gives you enough light to venture through this cave. And, quick hint, if you close your eyes while listening to this album, you’ll end up standing in an issue of Heavy Metal magazine. And honestly, who hasn’t wanted that at least once?
This album runs 45 minutes long and is broken up into, what I’m reluctant to call, sections. If you follow along, you can tell when one theme ends and the other begins because it’s broken up by a hubbubaloo of improvisation. As far as other mapping is concerned, Hällkvist will introduce one simple theme then add another on top, and then another, and another. Until, in the end, you are sitting back to enjoy a very bizarre, but extremely satisfying, experience. It’s the same give and take of tension that so many jazz and post-rock albums are known for, just turned way the fuck up. There’s more tension, ergo, more release. So, sit back, relax, and let the chemist mix you this succulent bitches brew.