Two years ago I was pleased to discover the music of Swedish guitar player Samuel Hällkvist when I reviewed his Variety of Live. This current release Variety of Rhythm completes a cycle that began with 2012’s Variety of Loud, intended to push the boundaries of melody, sound and rhythm. The album was recorded in Tokyo, Halmstad, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, New York, Paris and Malmo between March 2015 and January 2017. That said, it all sounds like a cohesive whole and gives the feel that everyone was in the room together, this international band of twelve musicians joining Samuel to create a breathtaking forty-three minute musical suite.
Samuel’s guitar playing is quite distinctive, in sound and approach producing wonderful textures which never appear over indulgent; he always provides just what is needed to enhance the pieces without overdoing it, a truly gifted player who loves to push the boundaries, testing the limits of jazz, rock, electronics and improvisation.
The Variety of Rhythm suite is the perfect blend of rhythm, melody and textures of sound coupled with jazz rock elements; the suite comprises three composed pieces surrounded by several more improvisations which have been shaped and coloured by the players’ geographical locations. The piece consists of many different rhythms which reveal themselves on repeated listens; in fact by focusing on a different rhythmic aspect you can get a totally different perspective of the music.
From the opening section, which includes the almost otherworldly voice of Qarin Wikström drifting amid the music. Things change at around four minutes with some great improvisational sounds, reminiscent of Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, which quickly moves into King Crimson territory to move the rhythm forward. That said, this is no copy of these artists, but using them as the starting point for the development of Samuel’s original style. At sixteen minutes the guitar starts to loop as David Torn begins to play; sharp, precise, the looped guitar remains persistent, almost as a counterpoint to David’s fluid solo, but at all times maintaining that rhythmic draw. Towards the end the power starts to ramp up, thundering along while the at times odd rhythms feel like they are almost at the point of falling apart, but it does not, such is the skill of the players involved.
The whole piece holds together perfectly, the ebb and flow appears so natural, drawing you in to Samuel’s musical vision. All the players are at the top of their game, making excellent contributions and helping to create this wonderful musical journey. I am finding it hard to put into words how good this album is, each repeated play reveals the hidden depths contained within providing a unique listening experience. Not an album for the background, you need to invest time to get the best from it, but at forty-three minutes it does leave you wanting to hit replay. Don’t take my word for it, give it a listen.
01. Variety of Rhythm Suite (43:45)
Total Time – 43:45
Samuel Hällkvist – Guitar
Dick Lövgren – Bass
David Torn – Guitar
Liesbeth Lambrecht – Violin
Pete Drungle – Keys
Yasuhiro Yoshigaki – Drums
Kumiko Takara – Percussion
Qarin Wikström – Voice
Knut Finsrud – Drums
Paulo Chagas – Saxophone
Silvia Corda – Various Objects
Adriano Orru – Bass
Katrine Amsler – Edit, Sound Design & Programming
Record Label: Boogie Post Recordings
Date of Release: 13th October 2017