Michael Aadal: guitar André Kassen: saxophone; Audun Ramo: bass; Gunnar Sæter: drums
Recorded November 2022 by Morten Martens at The Lodge, Kristiansand, Norway
I thoroughly enjoyed 2016’s ‘Pomona’, making it one of my albums of that year. On this set, Aadal and his band revisit several themes familiar from that album. One difference between this album and Pomona lies in the focal point of the compositions: here the focus lies in circumnavigating oceans and distant vistas, where the former focused on home.
There are drum patterns and chord sequences that could been recorded during the earlier session. But, rather than repetition, these feel part of the vernacular of this band and the manner in which ideas are broached and shared. This gives the music an intimacy, as if one is eavesdropping on friends swapping stories and looking out for each other.
This latter point goes some way to explain the emotional content that comes from what often appear to be quite simple melodic lines; the context in which these are played can create depth of feeling that the listener feels blessed to be able to share with them.
As the tunes progress, the listener is drawn into a calming and delicately phrased melody only, like in the title track, for the music to veer off into a discordant storm before settling back into a saxophone-led groove to a safe harbour.
While the band takes its name from the guitarist, this is surely a nominal leadership. Except for composing most of the tunes, Aadal takes a very democratic approach to the ways in which the players take the stage and express themselves.