“Rypdal is an innovator who is open to exploration and proves it from the start. After the rock experiences of Bleack House, thanks to the meeting with George Russell he dedicates himself more and more to contemporary music and, through the study with Finn Mortensen, to composition: it is through this path that he comes to publish Q.E.D., one of the highest moments of his career. Rypdal, however, is also the inspiration of that sound that the young Sven Persson was looking for in the mid-eighties, and which finds its clear and unmistakable form with the Chaser trio.”
Luca Vitali, Il Suono del Nord, Auditorium, 2081, pag. 258-259
First of all I think it is right to congratulate this great man. Terje Rypal, at the green age of 73, shows such musical vitality and such a desire to continue producing music that he sets himself as a healthy example for the younger generations. I admit I forgot about him a little in the last few years. Thanks to his retirement age and the shortage of his record appearances (only two other records in the last 10 years: Crime Scene (2010) and Melodic Warrior with The Hilliard Ensemble in 2013), I had begun a slow recovery of his previous discography, when this “Conspiracy” has returned to remind me that the old lion is still alive and that he is fighting with us.
This “Conspiracy” is a beautiful return to listening to the warm and dilated sound of his beloved Stratocaster, which immediately begins with the melancholy atmospheres of “As If The Ghost … Was Me?”, Where his guitar and Pål Thowsen’s drumsticks they introduce a theme that winks at Air on the G String of J.S. Bach. A beginning that reconfirms all Rypdal’s stylistic characteristics, where we find his atmospheric, well structured and delicately exploratory kind of music. The guitar remains the main instrument and Rypdal always plays it beautifully, making it virtually impossible to understand when he follows a compositional structure and when, instead, he improvises freely. It has now been several years since Rypdal repaid the debt of solidarity with his mentors Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Hank Marvin, even his detractors must grant him the right respect due to those who managed to create his own peculiar style based on an extremely personal “Norwegian” sound, often evocative of open landscapes and the icy north wind.
Like Rypdal himself, the other musicians in his quartet are also Scandinavian. Both Ståle Storløkken (keyboards) and Pål Thowsen (drums) are old companions, already present in ECM records as early as the 70s. At Fender Precision and fretless bass there is Endre Hareide Hallre who is by far the youngest musician of the group, and who is, perhaps, the real revelation of this record, where he leaves a strong and decisive imprint, thanks to Rypdal himself who often and willingly gives way to him as the main tool. It is therefore difficult to find something to criticize on this record, which perhaps will not add anything significant to a more than brilliant career, but which extends his discography in a more than honorable way. Rypdal confirms himself as a first-class guitarist and musician, as always surrounded by other excellent musicians and his music is simply impeccable.
The duration of this CD is just over 35 minutes, a duration that suggests a return to the LP format rather than to that of the CD. This is not bad, on the contrary, the short duration avoids the risks of a too prolix music and gladly invites prolonged listening and gives “Conspiracy” a capacity for synthesis that cannot be appreciated. Welcome back Mr. Rypdal! Long life to you!
P.S. For those wishing to further deepen the music of this innovator, I would like to point out that ECM has reissued four other records of his during this sad 2020: “Terje Rypdal”, “What comes after”, “Whenever I seem to be far away” and “Descendre. Highly recommended.
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