Cinematic C&N (Country & Northern) goes Pacific as West Norway chapel grooves encounter Polynesian-influenced steel and slide featuring the amazing Geir Sundstøl on pedal steel.
Chapel traditions from west Norway meets Polynesian gospel-swing
Everything seems to fall quite naturally into place, sounding intimately poised and at home with itself. Whatever the musical references, and however long you might take to enumerate the album’s various strengths, and those of Trond Kallevåg as writer, player and producer – and ‘Bedehus & Hawaii is so good that you can continue doing this for quite a while – you might still question exactly what makes it so special. For deep in the core of the album’s unusually compulsive appeal is a poetic sense of place and a very specific audio landscape. Here, as reflected in the title (a Bedehus is a local prayer-house or chapel), west Norway somehow meets the south Pacific, and humble chapel traditions – of music and much else – rub up against what might be termed Polynesian gospel-swing. There are so many contrasts and concordances here – between different geographical and musical climates, between north and south, sound and music, acoustic and electric, composition and improv, figure and ground, sacred and secular, sea and shore – that the music carries an ever-present sense of tension and release, pushing each tune forward as if it’s dancing on the balls of its feet.
Magic touch by Geir Sundstøl on pedal steel guitar
A particular blend of instruments and instrumentalists is partly what makes ‘Bedehus and Hawaii’ so distinctive, with Trond Kallevåg choosing to use his familiar trio partners, Alexander Hoholm on double bass, and Ivar Myhrset Asheim on drums and percussion, alongside the virtuoso violinist Adrian Løseth Waade (Skadedyr). Adding Geir Sundstøl supplied the magic touch. “Pedal steel guitar is probably the most beautiful sounding instrument I know, and to have Norway’s most respected and in-demand guitarist playing on my album was surreal and amazing.”
The remaining ingredient, and perhaps the reason why the album goes so far beyond the normal confines of a superior ‘picking’ set of instrumentals – whether jazz, country, or whatever – is Trond Kallevag’s interest in film soundtracks, and his use of sound as sound, which adds a further level of intellectual engagement to the project. “I wanted the musicians to express themselves without feeling limited by the music, but I also wanted to tell stories and have a cinematic quality”, he says. “That’s also why I’ve been mixing electronics and a little field recording into the music, in order to bring certain moods and pictures to the mind of the listener, but without overdoing it.”
April 10 Spor 5, Stavanger (N)
April 11 Kulturkirken Skåre, Haugesund (N)
April 12 Lykling Bedehus, Bømlo (N)
April 13 Vossajazz, Voss (N)
April 14 Florø Samfunnshus, Florø (N)
August 14 Grønland Kirke, Oslo Jazzfestival, Oslo (N)