Trond Kallevåg Hansen – Bedehus & Hawaii (feat. Geir Sundstøl)

trondSometimes when an album creates the mood of the sun warming your skin, with a gentle breeze blowing, and for some reason you’re sitting on a large front porch in some fucking rocking chair, staring out at the horizon, and popping off random “yeps” into the air, it’s easy to ignore. Its sounds drift in so smoothly you don’t realize how it makes the entire space a thousand times more chill. Musicians like Bill Frisell, Ry Cooder, and Gustavo Santaolalla are virtuosos of this “oh, fuck ya” space. These kinds of albums aren’t here to throw bricks through your window, shit in a paper bag and light it on fire, or break down socioeconomic whatever-the-fuck. These albums don’t argue with you. They’re not the fighting type. But they get their way whether you like it or not. All they want is for you to chill the fuck out. Their goal is to create sound waves that relax those shoulders, unclench that jaw, and place you in that perfect happy high state where you softly shut your eyes and smile like some dumb idiot. That’s what Trond does on this album by combining folk instrumentation with fancy-shmancy jazz techniques. It’s a folky jazz bubble bath, motherfuckers. So lie back, take it in, and enjoy.

The slide guitar, or pedal steel, can often be an overlooked instrument. When you do find yourself in front of one, you wonder how the fuck you ever forgot about their beautiful sound and why you ever stopped listening to it in the first place. Their bends and sustained notes have the ability to create twangy melodies that ring out like a swan’s song singing out to a benevolent Hillybilly God named Cletus; this makes sense considering Bedehus is Norwegian for “chill as fuck church house on a bucolic hillside” (not a direct translation). Geir Sundstøl plays this shit with the sensitivity of an eyeball and the foresight of a wizard. There’s not a single strain or ill-placed note in the batch. It all comes and goes with the naturalness of an ocean tide.

Next to the talents of Geir, you’ve got Trond throwing down Frisell-inspired guitar, Alexander Hoholm playing a clean, hearty, and pitch-perfect double bass, and Ivar Myhrset Asheim playing percussion like God fucking intended; bringing attention to what’s already there, not being a fucking centrepiece like some attention-seeking child that shat itself, and Adrian Løseth Waade showing what’s up on the fiddle. Albums like this don’t seem overly impressive at first. They’re easily overlooked. It’s not until you realize how easy it is to ruin such a delightful mood that you understand the talent behind them. One single blip, one blop, one note played too hard or soft and the entire diaphanous sheet of sound gets drenched with piss. And that’s where the tension comes from. To properly execute these kind of jams, you require a team of precise hands. Each instrument must work together to cut back the layers of callousness without ever touching a nerve or hitting the meat. If you’re a jazzhead, you’ll understand these techniques well and enjoy their performance. But if you don’t know or give a fuck about technique, this album may have even more to offer. Sure it’s pretty cool to know how a magic trick is performed, but it’s an entirely different thing to actually believe that it’s magic.


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