Listening to Tord Gustavsen’s music is like listening to silence. Or rather, one is always acutely aware of the silence, partly because his slow, quiet, highly focused approach ensures there is always a generous helping of it surrounding the notes and sounds, but also because what he does demands such close attention from the listener – the crucial lean forward, the straining to hear every quiet nuance – that one ends up listening not only to those notes and sounds but also through them, as it were, to the silence behind – and beyond.
His new trio retains his instrumental trio/quartet drummer Jarle Vespestad, a long-time musical partner and one treasured by anyone who knows Gustavsen’s music, and adds the German-Afghan vocalist Simin Tander.
Gustavsen has augmented his piano with some synths, using them like atmospheric auras around and below the acoustic instruments; Vespestad brings an orchestral range to the drum kit; Tander has a low and compelling voice, clear articulation and matches the others for attention to detail while keeping an overarching vision.
Many of the poetic lyrics are in Pashto, some are in English, some have Sufi origins, one is a Kenneth Rexroth poem; many of the melodies are traditional Norwegian hymns, the others are by Gustavsen.
This is an exquisitely beautiful album, the next step in Gustavsen’s clear dual path in musical and devotional exploration. It feels very much of the present but it also reaches way back into history, it’s both earthy and airy, both physical and spiritual, both still and transporting. It is released on Friday.
Here is a taste:
- Tord Gustavsen, Jarle Vespestad and Simin Tander are touring the UK shortly and play Turner Sims, Southampton on Thursday 3 March, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 4 March, St John the Evangelist Church, Oxford on Sunday 6 March, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday 8 March, St George’s, Bristol on Thursday 10 March and the CBSO Centre in Birmingham on Friday, March 11. Booking for the Birmingham gig is here.
Categories: CD review