Drummer Øyvind Skarbø’s trio Bly de Blyant, comprised of the Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson (TYFT, Jim Black’s AlasNoAxis) and the Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily (Marc Ribot, Will Oldham, John Zorn) in addition to Skarbø, received glowing reviews for their adventurous debut album ABC. The British magazine Prog wrote: “It’s a highly subtle album that denies itself nothing in terms of its sonic palette.” Rock-a-Rolla described the album as “[a]n intriguing, shapeshifting collection, open-ended and saturated with potential”.
Similarities and differences
One important point of similarity between ABC and Hindsight Bias is the unprejudiced attitude towards mixing and drawing inspiration from different genres. The members of the trio find references everywhere, and seem capable of combining them in an entirely uninhibited manner. The main difference between the two releases lies in the material. ABC was a rather fragmented record, presenting a large number of short pieces. Many of them were based on small sketches, and a good deal of the album was improvised in the studio. “With Hindsight Bias I wanted to create a more integrated album, with fewer and more concise songs,” says Skarbø. “I composed new material and adapted work from my archives with this in mind.” By the time the trio got together for this new recording, Skarbø had six pieces ready, all with more or less finished arrangements. “Although I had written nearly all of the music (two of the pieces were improvised), they would have remained only static sketches if Shahzad and Hilmar had not breathed life into them in their own personal ways.”
Despite their broad-minded eclecticism, the band manage to maintain credibility in everything they do, whether it is prog-inspired rock (“Michael Jackson Pollock”), groovy, twisted instrumental soul (“Westkreuz”), or disco with a banjo (“Laura”). This is a band that feels at home no matter which musical impulse they choose to pursue.