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Terje Rypdal - Odyssey CD (album) cover

ODYSSEY

Terje Rypdal

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Forget about the 'jazz rock' label. For my money, this is one of the proggiest, trippiest and most ecstatic guitar prog CDs ever recorded. As long as you're willing to accept Rypdal's now-rather-outdated-sounding string synthesizer (which only provides occasional backing anyway) you're in for a real treat!

Rypdal and his band generally lay down slow, melancholic grooves, on top of which the organist and the trombone player (as well as the band leader on sax) get to play slow, dreamy solos - but the highlights of this album are Terje's incredibly poignant solos on lead guitar. Whenever you think Rypdal couldn't possibly move you more, his guitar sings out even stronger than before. He truly conquers heights other guitarists cannot reach, and part of the beauty lies in his plangent use of vibrato. In the mid-seventies Rypdal was young, and the ECM label gave him all the freedom he needed to record the sort of music he wanted to play. You can tell he's out there to put his name on the map. Every single note comes from the core of his soul.

Most of ODYSSEY's music is nocturnal and melancholic in style (only those soaring guitar solos take everything to a different level); but "Over Birkerot" is dark, grim, instrumental rock (not unrelated to Larks Tongues-era King Crimson), and the final track (on this CD release) is a superb, sonata-like romance.

ODYSSEY was originally released as a double LP. Unfortunately, the 'final album side' (which contained just one long track) has never been available on CD.

Did you think the Norwegian fjords couldn't sing? Think again! This album is a triumph.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#158102)
Posted Tuesday, January 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is mostly dark, dreamy and experimental Jazz. I must admit I was disappointed with this one after being so impressed with "Whenever I Seem So Far Away". Guitar, trombone, sax, strings and organ lead the way, although bass and drums are prominant at times.The strings and organ really give this music it's spacey and dreamy flavour. Oh and it's slow paced too.

"Darkness Falls" opens with the crying guitar of Terje that goes on for 1 1/2 minutes as bass and drums sounds can be heard in the background. Trombone then takes over for the guitar briefly until the guitar returns before 2 1/2 minutes to end it. The guitar is mournful. "Midnite" opens with bass as light drums and organ come in. The same bass line is played over and over throughout the song. Sax after 2 minutes. The song just sort of drifts along until guitar comes in around 10 1/2 minutes. Organ is more prominant after 13 minutes. A sad, repetitive track that's as cold as Norway in the winter. "Adagio" is spacey to begin with as organ comes in waves, eventually joined by strings. This is quite haunting. Sax 5 minutes in is replaced by the guitar 7 minutes in. The guitar is crying out for the most part then screaming 11 minutes in. I must admit the guitar in the latter half of this song gets on my nerves at times. Not exactly background music. Haha.

"Better Off Without You" is again spacey as guitar soundscapes come and go while organ and light drums play on. It builds slowly. Some scorching guitar sounds 5 1/2 minutes in. "Over Birkerot" sounds interesting as guitar and drums lead the way as these deep sounds come and go. The tempo picks up 2 minutes in as Terje lets it rip on his guitar. Nice. "Fare Well" has this spacey and haunting intro. Eerie guitar a minute in cries out. Sax after 2 minutes. Guitar is back after 4 minutes joined by sax. This is dark and sad folks. Guitar is prominant again before 7 minutes with french horn joining in and strings. Sax returns as guitar stops. Guitar is crying out 9 1/2 minutes in. This is slow and melancholic. "Ballade" opens with organ as trombone, bass and light drums come in. The guitar starts to make some noise until it's dominating 2 1/2 minutes in with some scorching melodies. It stops 4 minutes in as organ and sax take over.

This one is more about painting bleak soundscapes than anything else.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#177710)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions
4 stars Don't know much about this excellent guitarist and composer. But when I stumble upon the name Terje Rypdal ... which occurs here and there ... it immediately reminds me of 'Over Birkerrot'. When I heard this song for the first time in the 70s I was flabbergasted so to say. It surely was the same decade ... don't ask me when exactly ... and I took the chance to see him performing on the stage with his band when they had a gig at my hometown. Very impressing what I can remember. It must have been the second half to be more precise, because they played, if not all, at least the majority of the songs from this album ... including my favourite.

I once owned this album as a double vinyl, including 'Rolling Stone' which was omitted for the following CD re-issues then, what I know. My LPs are out of order unfortunately ... and are resold to some collectors in the meanwhile .. this means I have no clue anymore, what this song is all about. 'Odyssey' holds some sort of excentric fusion music coupled with a slight symphonic approach. That said you'll find many sentimental parts, just take the trombone contributions for example. This is relaxed mostly, interwoven ambient respectively spacey elements caused by the organ ... and Rypdal's guitar is often lost in reverie. Melancholy pure to sum it up.

All in all dreamy Midnite - now the longest track indeed - is dominated by a hypnotic bass line. The trombone has a big solo part here. Adagio comes classically tinged due to some strings and Better Off Without You represents Sweetnighter (Weather Report) inspirations I would say. And I really like Ballade - another dreamy composition - with Rypdal's expressive varied guitar work, a bit McLaughlin reminiscent, very emotional.

In some way differing to the rest of the songs Over Birkerrot comprises an improv/jam approach, even if this is a relatively short exemplar. I always had regrets, why made that compactly? There is so much potential. Never mind - this swings, grooves, drummer Svein Christiansen is responsible due to his enormous drive. Who is the better virtuoso? Rypdal with his multiple guitar layers and organ player Brynjulf Blix are competing here, fantastic! Tornbjørn Sunde shows some nearly scary deep toned trombone contributions.

I'm not familiar with his other work, but quite sure anyhow that this is a valuable recommendation for a Rypdal newbie, an excellent piece of work in any case - provided with some typical Nordic dark mooded flavour.

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Send comments to Rivertree (BETA) | Report this review (#336562)
Posted Saturday, November 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Terje's continuing adventures with ECM were beginning to transform in a love affair, to the point that Manfred allowed Rypdal to release a double disc affair, which I believe in 75 was the label's first. This album features the usual "Rypdal Norwegian Whale-fishing crew" suspects, despite the strange choice of a trombonist as the unique horn player, outside of the master's own sax twiddlings. Apparently the remaster of this album lists also a French horn player as well, and this could be explained that he only appeared on side 4 of the album, which is not on the first CD reissue. Oh BTW, the album's name has nothing to do with mythology, so if you're into concept album, you'll be disappointed.

Anyway, we're facing a relatively quiet album, with plenty of atmospheric moments, most of it created by Blix's organ (no other Kb played), but also Terje's strident and aerial guitar wails. Indeed, by the time of this album's release, Terje was fine-tuning his typical guitar style (well somewhere between Oldfield and Hackett), and he'll have plenty of time to achieve it over the course of these two discs. Lengthy and gliding tracks like Midnite, Adagio, Fare Well are just excuses to allow Terje to wail, soar, reign, dominate his team- mates heads and shoulders. Actually, when not on his guitar, Rypda is laying out some synth layers from his String Ensemble rig, but he's not a Tangerine Dream member, and there are way too many useless meanders and other lengths (thinking of Adagio amongst other), and the whole thing is uneventful. One could call this album "new age" if the term had been coined much sooner, so I suppose that many described it as cosmic or spacey, which I think might be a tad misleading, partly because of Rypdal's guitar sometimes leaving its annoying aerial wails to come down and growl a bit in the lower registers, like in my album-fave Better Off Without You, and Birkerot, where he really unleashes. Fare Well is actually quite annoying, because Terje's strident guitars are really aggravating and irritating to my left ear, and switching channel speakers won't help, because after two minutes, the right ear is sore. Ballade is self-explanatory and boring except maybe for Terje's guitar growls when it doesn't soar searingly.

A rare double ECM album, but given the result, no wonder Manfred didn't release that many more and its CD reissue has been shortened by the D-sidelong Rolling Stone track; which by its name, might have been the rockier or energetic track of the album. Never heard it, though. This is the kind of ECM album that you can feel glad it has an end and relief comes once it stops spinning or by pushing the eject button. Definitely not my cup of tea, outside two or three (shorter) tracks.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#507500)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Review Permalink

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