Every so often a progressive rock album comes to your attention which simply blows you away. A kind of trip down ‘memory lane’ album, conjuring up fond memories of the time in the early 1970’s when music shifted up a gear from basic rock to something far more grandiose. It is also a band which brings to the fore the incredible and very exciting multi-instrumental talent of ‘Hakon Oftung’.
The band in question is Jordsjø’ from Oslo, who are basically a two man outfit featuring multi-instrumentalist ‘Hakon Oftung’ and ‘Kristian Fraland’ on drums. Internet research reveals that the main writing credits extend in favour towards ‘Håkon Oftung’ the creative architect behind their eclectic symphonic output. In effect the album under the spotlight here is their first official album entitled “Nattfiolen, but not to be confused with a further double CD that is available and which comprises earlier outakes and recordings previously released on cassette tape.
Every single track on this album is filled with utter joy, the music is just so wonderfully spaced out with oodles of exquisite flute, and brilliant variations of finger picking acoustic and lead electric guitar bathed in a wondrous wash of beautifully appointed Hammond organ, piano, and other various electronic keyboards. The sheer extent of the audio engineering involved to create the composite layers of multi tracking creating the various instrumental,and vocal contributions in the final mix, is truly outstanding. The entire affair is just so rich in melodic charm and oozing panache from start to finish. Furthermore it is all so beautifully orchestrated with symphonic elements and musical phrases galore reaching a state of total progressive rock perfection. On subsequent plays one gets the impression that ‘Hakon’ has utilised his flute to lay down the majority of the melody lines, little note sequences which initially appear as flute solos and which then are regenerated by the guitar and keyboards. The drumming is immaculate throughout providing a solid platform for the compositional skills of ‘Hakon Oftung’ indeed the accompanying percussive elements are of the same high level of excellence, a great musical partnership. The band have quoted that their music is inspired by “old horror movies, German 70s synth music, Norwegian jazz, campfires, Swedish folk music, fantasy novels and Norwegian nature” and every aspect of that statement is realised on this album
The vocals from ‘Hakon Oftung’ fit in perfectly with the music, warm and soft and the native Norwegean delivery evokes a dreamy lovely atmospheric feel.
Summary. An album to include if shipwrecked on a desert island, it is that good.
Håkon Oftung – Vocal, flute, guitar & keyboard Ståle Langhelle – Keyboard Håkon Knutzen – Guitar & Bass
Kristian Frøland – Drums & percussion
3. Solens Sirkulaere Sang
5. MineTempler II
6. Til Varen
Further Notes from the internet: The band started out during the teenage years of founding members, Kristian Frøland (drums) and Håkon Oftung (guitars, vocals, flutes), who enjoyed playing punk and black metal before studying jazz in various parts of Norway. Through formulating their initial ideas in a band called Tomb, the two were able to forge a musical connection which ultimately led to what we hear and enjoy in Jordsjø. Formed in the autumn of 2014 Jordsjø started out purely as a hobby project, until the addition of further members turned Oftung’s hobby into a fully fledged studio and live band.
JORDSJØ’s debut live appearance took place in the summer of 2015, and the band’s first releases were “old school” with “Jordsjø I” and “Jordsjø II” seeing the light of day in Cassette format in 2015 and 2016 respectively. These were followed by “Songs from the Northern Wasteland”, a split cassette with BREIDABLIK. These three cassettes were later reissued as a self titled, double compilation album.