Hedvig Mollestad Trio-Ding Dong, You’re Dead.

Label: Rune Grammofon.

Format: CD.

Just nine months ago award-winning Norwegian guitarist, vocalist, bandleader and composer Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen released her critically acclaimed debut solo album Ekhidna.  By then, she was one of the leading lights of Norway’s vibrant music scene. She had founded the Hedvig Mollestad Trio in 2009 and by then, they had already released five live albums and one live album Evil In Oslo. Now one of Norwegian music’s most explosive and expansive groups make a  welcome return with Ding Dong, You’re Dead which was recently released by Rune Grammofon. They’ve come a long way in twelve years.

Ever since the Hedvig Mollestad Trio was founded in 2009 this they’ve been pushing musical boundaries and creating inventive and innovative genre-melting music. They hit the headlines when they played at the prestigious Molde International Jazz Festival in 2009. The newly formed band won the Jazztalentprisen award for the best “young jazz talent.” This was the start of the rise and rise of the Hedvig Mollestad Trio.

Two years later in 2011, they released their critically acclaimed debut album Shoot on Rune Grammofon. With their unique and inimitable genre-melting sound the future looked bright for the Hedvig Mollestad Trio.

They returned in 2013 with their sophomore album All Of Them Witches in 2013. It was released to the same critical acclaim as Shoot and also won a Norwegian Grammy in the rock category. This set the bar high for the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s next album. 

The group returned a year later in 2014, with their much-anticipated third album Enfant Terrible. This genre-melting album was regarded by many critics as the finest album of the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s five year career. By then, the group’s popularity was growing across Europe and beyond.

After a two year absence, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio returned in 2016 with two new albums. This included their fourth studio album Black Stabat Mater  which is: “a genre-melting opus that brings back memories of the golden age of rock.” The other album is Evil In Oslo, which is the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s first ever live album. It’s a tantalising taste of one of the band live shows.

For the next couple of years much of the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s time was spent playing live, and they shared the stage with jazz and rock royalty including John McLaughlin and Black Sabbath. Still they found the time to record their fifth studio album Smells Funny. It was released to widespread critical acclaim in February 2019 and cemented the group’s reputation as one of Norwegian music’s finest and most successful group. Hedvig Mollestad Trio had come a long way in ten years.

In 2019, the organisers of the prestigious Vossajazz festival wrote to Hedvig Mollestad to commission a new work. She accepted and the completed commission became Ekhidna, which is a figure from Greek mythology that is half woman, half snake. Backed by an expanded band that was akin to a supergroup Ekhidna was premiered at the Vossajazz festival in April 2019. Critics were won over by what was spellbinding performance of the new piece which lasted seventy-five magical minutes.

After the success of the performance at Vossajazz, it was decided to release Ekhidna as an album. To make it suitable for album release the full festival version was edited, tightened up in places, and then the band recorded Ekhidna earlier in 2020 at Amper Tone studio in Oslo with Hedvig Mollestad taking charge of production. Once the album was complete, it released to plaudits and praise in the summer of 2020. By then, the world was a very different place.

By the spring of 2020, the global pandemic had struck and governments across the world imposed stringent lockdowns.  Meanwhile, shocked citizens struggled to comprehend what was happening as the world was changed beyond recognition almost overnight. So did the music industry. 

Touring was no longer possible and concert tours and festivals were cancelled. Many bands and musicians watched as one of their major sources of income dried up. In many countries, studios were forced to close during lockdown but reopened in the autumn. Many bands were keen to record a new album. This included the Hedvig Mollestad Trio who began recording Ding Dong, You’re Dead in September 2020.

Ding Dong, You’re Dead.

They would record seven tracks over the next three months. Bandleader and riffmeister extraordinaire Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen wrote All Flights Cancelled, Ding Dong, You’re Dead, Gimbal,  The Art Of Being Jon Balkovitch and Four Candles. Bassist Ellen Brekken wrote Leo Flash’ Return To The Underworld and Magic Moshroom. These tracks were recorded at Ampler Tone, in Oslo.

That was where the Hedvig Mollestad Trio recorded their sixth studio album with recordist Bård Ingebrigtsen recorded and later mixed Ding Dong, You’re Dead. The usual lineup of guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen, drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad and bassist Ellen Brekken spent three months recording the seven tracks which were  completed by November 2020. Once mixed Helge Sten mastered the album at his Audio Virus Lab. 

In March 2021, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio released their much-anticipated sixth studio album Ding Dong, You’re Dead. It’s another album that’s guaranteed to find favour with  rock and jazz fans alike. During the seven soundscapes the trio also combine elements of avant-garde, free jazz, heavy metal and progressive rock. 

Similarly, an equally eclectic selection of artists have influenced the Hedvig Mollestad Trio during the recording of Ding Dong, You’re Dead. This includes King Crimson, Frank Zappa,John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, Sonic Youth, AC/DC as well as the late, great John Martyn and Terje Rypdal. Sometimes when the Trio are rocking hard they seem to channel the spirit of classic Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin on Ding Dong, You’re Dead. It’s is a potent and powerful musical potpourri that’s certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Ding Dong, You’re Dead opens with the genre-melting Leo Flash’ Return To The Underworld. It finds the Hedvig Mollestad Trio combining early seventies fusion and hard rock with metal and progressive rock. Blistering, scorching, searing and soaring licks are unleashed by bandleader and riffmeister Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen as she takes centrestage and the rhythm section power drive the arrangement along.

It’s a similar case on All Flights Cancelled which features a masterclass from the virtuoso guitarist. She’s accompanied by thunderous drums and a pounding, rumbling bass. They play a supporting role as the riffmeister struts her way through the track. Later, her stunning guitar solo heads heavenwards where the guitar gods reside and they welcome it with open arms and give thanks for its peerless quality.

Straight away, there’s a dark, eerie and experimental sound to the title-track as it prowls almost menacingly along. All the time, one wonders if and when the soundscape is going to explode into life? It’s dark and sometimes dubby, moody and broody and has a cinematic sound. Later, a rocky guitar cuts through the slow, dark arrangement on this filmic soundscape that shows another side to the Trio.

The tempo increases slightly on Gimbal which is a rockier sounding track. It’s dark, dramatic and even haunting and is another captivating track where one wonders what direction it’s heading? Sometimes as the soundscape is driven along the Trio play with a ferocity unleashing and spraying effects as the arrangement buzzes becomes busy and grows in power taking on a psychedelic rock sound. Playing a leading role is guitar hero Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen whose ably assisted by the rhythm section who fill in the gaps but don’t overplay before the arrangement reaches a dramatic crescendo. 

Then on Magic Moshroom the influence of the late Frank Zappa can be heard as the track heads in the direction psychedelic-jazz. A fleet-fingered guitar solo is to the fore as the track is driven along and also combines elements of progressive rock, jazz and hard rock. It allows the Trio to showcase their considerable skills and versatility on this spellbinding genre-melting track.

From the get-go the guitar plays a leading role on The Art Of Being Jon Balkovitch. However, the rhythm section more than play their role the bass playing with confidence and with the thunderous drums powering the arrangement along. Meanwhile, Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen is unleashing a blistering solo that’s flawless. She adds effects and machine gun licks to what’s a virtuoso performance that is over after just four memorable minutes. 

Closing Ding Dong, You’re Dead is Four Candles which is a beautiful ballad. Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen playing is much more understated and the washes of shimmering guitar seem to have been influenced by John Martyn’s Solid Air. The rhythm section play with a similar subtlety and take a less is more approach on what’s the highlight of the album. Maybe the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s next album should be an album of music like Four Candles?

Ding Dong, You’re Dead is Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s new opus and is an album with its roots in the past and present. Sometimes they should’ve been around at the same time as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix. Sonically and stylistically, the Trio’s music is a reminder of the golden age of rock, and its possible to imagine the Hedvig Mollestad Trio playing at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles or Fillmore East in San Francisco. However, the similarities between some of the legends of music and the Hedvig Mollestad Trio are no coincidence.

Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen who founded the Hedvig Mollestad Trio in 2009, grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix. Their influence can be heard on Ding Dong, You’re Dead. So can the influence of progressive rockers King Crimson, legendary fusion guitarist John McLaughlin and Miles Davis as well as everyone from Frank Zappa and Terje Rypdal to  Sonic Youth, AC/DC and John Martyn and Terje Rypdal. Closer to home, one can’t help but wonder whether Moster! and Motorpsycho have influenced the Hedvig Mollestad Trio? These bands have a similar genre-melting sound to the Hedvig Mollestad Trio. 

To create this genre-melting sound, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio fuse elements of rock with hard rock, fusion, progressive rock and jazz with with avant-garde, free jazz and psych-jazz. Sometimes, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio seamlessly switch between musical genres mid track. Other times, disparate genres melt into one on Ding Dong, You’re Dead as the Hedvig Mollestad Trio throw a musical curveball as they take the listener on their magical mystery tour where they reach new heights on this captivating, genre-melting epic album.

 Hedvig Mollestad Trio-Ding Dong, You’re Dead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: