For twenty years electric guitarist Terje Rypdal (and ECM producer Manfred Eicher) have helped define the most sensual, moody, alluring aspects of European jazz and new music. And while Rypdal, the improvising guitarist, may structure his solos and chamber-like accompaniments in the manner of a jazz or classical composer, there's a lyric, rock edge to his guitar playing that will transport anyone who has ever contemplated the vocal cry of a Fender Stratocaster driven into distortion.
But then Rypdal brings many styles of music to bear on his modern conception. From his earliest days with Jan Garbarek in George Russell's Sextet, Rypdal displayed a feel for the modal interplay of Russell and Miles Davis, and the tortured lyrical cry of Clapton and Hendrix. With the Nordic psychedelia of WHAT COMES AFTER and the chamber graces of strings and guitar on WHENEVER I SEEM TO BE FAR AWAY, Rypdal forged the template of his art.
There is much of the midnight sun and northern lights on IF MOUNTAINS COULD SING, yet it begins with one of Rypdal's sunniest, most rhythmic designs. Imagine The Police or Santana (sans vocals) during one of their extended instrumental jams and you've got "The Return Of Per Ulv," with its gypsy airs built around Rypdal's soaring line. "It's In The Air," with its double-timed drums and its swirling, wintery drone, sets off Rypdal's edgy distortion lead in sharp relief, before giving way to Webern-like strings on "But On The Other Hand." Rypdal, like King Crimson, views 20th Century classicism and rock as mutually compatible, and there is much to enjoy in his music, from the coven's shuffle of "Private Eye" to the whimsical folk dance of "Dancing Without Reindeers."