Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal was twenty-one when he released his debut album Bleak House on Polydor in 1968. This was the start of a recording career that has spanned six decades and saw the him become one of Norway’s most successful musical exports.
Three years later, in 1971, Terje Rypdal signed to ECM which had been founded in Munich in 1969 by by Karl Egger, Manfred Eicher and Manfred Scheffner and released his eponymous sophomore album. Since then, Terje Rypdal has spent most of his career released twenty-five albums on the label including studio and live albums as well as collaborations and the albums he’s released with The Chasers.
The most recent album that Terje Rypdal has released on ECM is Conspiracy which is his first studio album in twenty years. Conspiracy marks the welcome return of the seventy-tree year old virtuoso guitarist and his trusty Fender Stratocaster.
This is fitting given the guitarists that have influenced Terje Rypdal. Among them are former Shadow Hank Marvin, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. However, the music they made and continue to make is very different to Terje Rypdal’s atmospheric and evocative soundscapes that often paint pictures of his native Norway and the Norwegian landscapes. This is something that’s been missed by his legion of fans.
The return of Terje Rypdal is also perfectly timed as recently there’s been a resurgence of interest in jazz guitarists. This includes by David Torn and young British jazz guitarists like Ant Law and Rob Luft. They’ll learn from Terje Rypdal’s guitar playing on Conspiracy.
Joining guitarist Terje Rypdal on Conspiracy are drummer Pål Thowsen who has been playing on ECM releases since the seventies. So has keyboardist Ståle Storløkken. However, the youngest member of the band is Endre Hareide Hallre on Fender Precision and fretless bass. He plays an important part in the sound and success of the album and sometimes, his bass takes centrestage.
Opening Conspiracy is As If The Ghost… Was Me!? Initially the arrangement is understated with cymbals combining with the Fender Stratocaster before the rhythm section enter as the intensity grows and drums add a degree of drama. What follows is a wistful, haunting soundscape that sets the bar high for the rest of the album.
What Was I Thinking is a quite beautiful track that finds the album heading in the direction of Scandi jazz. Washes of keyboards and Endre Hareide Hallre’s bass provide the backdrop for Terje Rypdal’s guitar on what’s a quite beautiful but intense sounding track from one of the giants of Scandi jazz.
Quite different is Conspiracy which from the get-go has a heavier, rockier and funkier sound. It shows another side to the quartet as drums pound and combines with a rolling bass as Terje Rypdal unleashes a blistering, rocky solo. Effects are added while keyboards interject as a machine gun guitar solo is sprayed across the arrangement. By then, this stunning genre-melting soundscape which is slow, dramatic and sometimes heads in the direction of fusion.
By His Lonesome is a cinematic soundscape where Endre Hareide Hallre’s bass plays a leading role. It’s atmospheric and sometimes wistful as the quartet paint pictures with music.
Baby Beautiful is an eight minute sweeping soundscape. It’s beautiful and has ruminative sound that aides and encourages the listener to reflect and contemplate as Terje Rypdal unleashes one of finest performances on Conspiracy.
Dawn closes Conspiracy and is a captivating cinematic sounding track. It’s easy to imagine the dawn breaking and in the as the rain lashes down and the wind howls on a cold winter’s day just like the one on the album cover.
Conspiracy is the first solo album from the Norwegian virtuoso guitarist Terje Rypdal. He’s enjoyed a career that’s spanned six decades and released twenty-five albums on ECM. This includes his most recent album Conspiracy where the music is atmospheric, evocative, haunting, ruminative and wistful. The soundscapes also have a cinematic sound on this carefully crafted album which feature the welcome return of musical master craftsman Terje Rypdal, who is one of the finest purveyors of Scandi jazz.