…in the beginning was the end, and the end the beginning.

Losen: Los279-2

Herborg Rundberg: piano, vocals; Kristian Svalestad Olstad: guitars, vocals; Dag Okstad: bass, bird whistle, vocals; Sverre Gjørvad: drums, vocals; Eirik Hegal: saxophones

Recorded 16th-19th June 2022 by Kristian Svalestad Olsad at Kysten Studios, Tromsø, Norway

The closing track on this set reprises ‘Voi River’ from the quartet’s 2018 album and brings to a close a tetralogy that is loosely based on the Aristotelian concept of elements (which, you will remember from school, are water, air, earth, and fire).

The first album also carried with it an enigmatic version of the song ‘Here comes the sun’, so one might say that in the beginning was the end, and the end the beginning.

Each of the previous albums have titles which reflect an element in the order I have listed them – and this album is for ‘fire’. But, given the title, and joyful image of leaping off a jetty into a lake, this is not fire to fear but one to welcome and celebrate.

Perhaps, even before the decision to create a tetralogy, the quartet had an inkling that the world would go through the dark times of covid-19 and emerge into something positive.

Well, perhaps, the world today is not so positive (nor have we entirely left covid behind us). But the warmth and positivity of this record comes from most of the tunes happily bouncing along in major keys and catchy melodies.

Some of these, like ‘Round about’, track 7, have a deceptively simple bass and piano melody that pestered by drums patterns that skip around it like a puppy.

Others carry an emotional depth, like their version of Paul Simon’s ‘Dazzling blue’, track 10, that works blues chord progression and tempo but carries a calm and contented aura.

So, when we come to the closing ‘Voi river’, which is every bit as joyful here as in the first album, there is a sense of closure and completeness: a journey undertaken and arrival at home, with the addition of Hegdal’s saxophone encouraging the band into ever more elaborate carnivalesque playing.

In the intervening albums, there were periods of darkness and peril, but these moods have evaporated in the joy of return.

Reviewed by Chris Baber