When long time member of White Willow Ketil Vestrum Einarsen decided to make an album, I became interested. When I learned that he was also joined by Jacob Holm-Lupo and Mattias Olsson my interest took off. This album is Ketil’s debut as a band leader and this is a homage to the seventies Krautrock scene through his own eyes, or ears if you like. He has been a fan of the genre for many years, taking inspiration from the likes of Tangerine Dream, Can, Cluster and many more. This is not a retro or ‘by-the-numbers’ copy, there is a modern feel to these complex multi-tracked songs to create an unusual and unique album.
As a composer Ketil has written music for ten documentaries and one TV series, all this together with Lars Fredrik Frøislie of Wobbler. Ketil plays flute, clarinet, guitar, keyboards and does the programming, supported by Gaute Storsve and Jacob Holm-Lupo who share bass and guitar duties, with Mattias Olsson, ex-Änglagård and now of White Willow, providing some interesting drum reimagining of Krautrock’s motorik beats. The album was mixed and mastered by Jacob, and with a long list of guest musicians, the promise of quality looks assured. The band state that, “We aim to please all those who are hungry for cosmic, instrumental prog rock”.
There is a definite Krautrock feel here but it does have an identity of its own, there is a natural flow which can slowly draw you in. It is minimalistic at times, but mostly it is lush and layered with a lot of depth. The drumming is outstanding, Mattias giving a new dimension to the rhythms, a truly big drum sound throughout that doesn’t dominate proceedings.
The album is divided into four tracks, all instrumental, which are always interesting and hold your attention. Opening track Tanzen und Springen goes through three movements with lots of keyboards, programming and that big drum sound. The second track, Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde, has a title taken from a work by composer Gustav Mahler which translates as ‘The Drinking Song of the Earth’s Sorrow’, but it is in no way a sad song. The track begins with a section that has that pulsating Kraftwerk feel, Mattias providing the signature drum sound supported by some atmospheric programming, before the keyboards join in. The guitar gives a lively solo and Ketil provides us with some wonderful flute as the track evolves and flows. Indeed the whole album has a bright, positive feel, leaving you with an almost contented feeling.
The last track, Trisrant, has a different feel to the others, a little more in your face, the drums and bass taking the lead before the guitar takes over proceedings, the song gliding along but with slightly more angular rhythms. Here maybe the influence of Can is felt a little more.
There are a lot of sounds here that highlight other possible influences apart from the listed ones, at times there are touches of Mike Oldfield, Floydian keyboard sounds, that is not to say that it is a rehash of old sounds, quite the opposite; it sounds fresh and modern. There is a great deal to discover here, repeated plays pay dividends as more is revealed on each listen. This is a high class offering from a bunch of musicians at the top of their game. If you like the Krautrock period then this is for you, it would also appeal to those who have a liking for ‘old school prog’, or simply if you like good music this is an interesting album. The band played their first gig at the Close To Rain festival in Bergen on the 3rd June 2017, I for one would love to see this played live.
01. Tanzen und Springen (10:01)
02. Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde (16:09)
03. Kunst Der Fuge (12:25)
04. Tristrant (9:06)
Total time – 47:41
Ketil Vestrum Einarsen – Flute, Clarinet, Keyboards, Guitars, Programming
Gaute Storsve – Bass, Guitar
Jacob Holm-Lupo – Bass, Guitar
Mattias Olsson – Drums & Percussion
~ With Guests:
Lars Fredrik Frøislie
Stephen James Bennet
Record Label: Apollon Records
Date of Release: 26th May 2017