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Jazz Prog Round-up - August 2016

Album Review

Sid Smith rounds up the best releases from prog’s jazzier reaches.

Norway’s Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s Black Stabat Mater (Rune Grammofon) is their fourth studio release since 2011 and their best yet. An incendiary, shape-shifting crossover of heavy rock and jazz, their turbulent howl is often more Merzbow than Mahavishnu. In this volatile, free-ranging environment, Mollestad’s distortion-blitzed guitar cleaves its way between Ellen Brekken’s prowling bass and drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad’s furious cannonades.

These volcanic shockwaves are tempered with scythe-like harmonies that carry within them deftly articulated parts, heightening the white-knuckle ride: the vibrant sparks and shards arcing from Mollestad’s fretboard result in a near-constant wave of exultant release. It’s challenging and stunning in equal measure. A limited edition, double-vinyl live set, Evil In Oslo (Rune Grammofon), offers an impressive in-concert retrospective of the trio in no-holds-barred action. If Black Sabbath did instrumental jazz rock it’d sound a bit like this.


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