It appears that Hedvig Mollestad is on a bit of a creative streak, with past releases including three solo albums and seven with the Hedgvig Mollestad trio (who are still active). She is now introducing a new and exciting trio, which is going forward to break new ground for her. Hedvig has got together with Slåle Storløkken (Elephant 9) on keyboards and Ole Mofjell (part of the young generation making waves in European improv) on drums. The band is named ‘Weejuns’, which is apparently a brand of moccasin shoe: “versatility and comfort, their simple elegance and subtle roughness, Weejuns became an iconic fashion classic.” I wonder if some of the descriptions in that quote could be attributed to their music? Maybe.
There has been reference to this project being hardcore improvisation, influenced by Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Henry Cow, Soft Machine and ’73-’74 period King Crimson. That is a muscular bunch to be sure, but this trio do appear to have used these influences wisely, laying the foundations of their own sound and style.
The album contains six tracks with running times between just over six minutes to an epic twenty-one minutes. Four of the tracks were recorded at Munch Museum in Oslo and a further one each from Blå in Oslo and Spor5 in Stavanger.
What is immediately clear on the first listen is that these three musician appear to have an uncanny understanding of each others contributions and they fit so well in and around one another. Ole Mofjell’s drumming is the glue that holds things together, his playing is clear and precise, shifting tempo as required. Hedvig and Ståle play off each other, neither being over dominant but when one comes to the fore the other supports amiably.
This statement is no more obviously demonstrated than on track three, Hug that Tree. Ole’s drums are powerful, driving and holding the direction as the keyboards and guitar almost dance around each other. They have moments of even duelling together and then each taking centre stage, about ten minutes in the pace picking up almost like an out of control train. That said, it is clear the control that these musicians have and around fourteen minutes the pace slows to an almost heavy chugging with Hedvig’s guitar soaring over the top, then a frantic and blistering last few minutes race to the end.
If those almost seventeen minutes plus were not enough, we get the next track, I’ll Give You Twenty One, which clocks in at over twenty-one minutes. Here we have a slow atmospheric build up, always giving the feeling that things are going to explode, but the trio master restraint developing the sound structures in a most interesting way. The pace begins to pick up at around fourteen to fifteen minutes in with Hedvig’s guitar coming to the front. When the ending comes we get an impressive flourish of keyboards from Ståle. The song ends and we have been given a perfect example of musical skill, control, restraint and pacing.
It is over theses two examples of the songs contained on the album that you hear and understand the quality of this trio’s music and the very high standard of musicianship from all being demonstrated within the live setting. That also holds for the remaining songs on the album, giving you a top quality enjoyable listening experience, one which you will want to repeat many times over, and may be lucky enough to experience in a live setting, if they play near you. Released on CD, double vinyl LP and download, go and treat yourself, I don’t think you will be disappointed – I know I wasn’t.
01. Go at Your Peril (11:47)
02. Come Monday (6:41)
03. Hug That Tree! (17:41)
04. I’ll Give You Twenty One (21:49)
05. Stay at Your Peril (12:58)
06. Pity the City (8:44)
Total Time – 79:42
Hedvig Mollestad – Guitars
Ståle Storløkken – Keyboards
Ole Mofjell – Drums
Record Label: Rune Grammofon
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 1st September 2023