Eivind Opsvik

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Overseas Review

by David Dupont

Norwegian bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik merges an interest in early fusion with a characteristically Nordic sensibility. The music on Overseas is atmospheric, full of shifting, dark pastel textures. The rhythms underpinning the sounds always seem to be on the verge of finding a groove, yet remain fluid, almost to the point of formlessness. On "Punchball," for example, seemingly random sounds emerge from a void, peeps and pucks and blips looking for a context. Yet, Opsvik keeps it rooted with a four-note funk phrase every few bars. The sound grows fuller, though not focused until an insistent groove emerges in the closing minutes. The early fusion connection comes through most strongly on "Ivandovich," a trio of acoustic bass, Jesse Davis' drums, and Wells Hanley's Fender Rhodes electric piano. The piece could be an outtake from Miles Davis' In a Silent Way. Opsvik does mix in some characteristically European pop-folk sounds, notably on "Redford" and "Italian Movie Theme." Tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby delivers some urgent, passionate tenor on the latter and on "Prelude." Also contributing strong solo voices are Hanley, with some floating, evasive acoustic piano on "Overseas," and Craig Taborn, who colors several tracks with swirling Hammond organ lines. Opsvik's own bass has an aching sound, with his lines plumbing the depths to find almost folk-song-like melodies.

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