In the Country

This Was the Pace of My Heartbeat

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This Was the Pace of My Heartbeat was marketed as Rune Grammofon's first jazz release. It's a debatable case (the Scorch Trio's first CD surely was not far from the jazz realm), but In the Country's debut is certainly the label's most mainstream release up to this point. Led by pianist Morten Qvenild, the man responsible for the smooth musical arrangements of the project Susannah and the Magical Orchestra, this trio takes its cue from the soft-spoken piano trios of the bop era. There's a bit of Charles Mingus in the writing and a touch of Lennie Tristano in the phrasing, but the group is successful at developing a personal sound, mainly through the use of extended techniques (some prepared piano and creative drumming). Qvenild's use of vibraphone overdubs enhances the late-night lounge feel of the music, while drummer Pål Hausken adds a certain level of quiet unrest by bowing and scraping cymbals. Paces are very slow and pensive, but light. Qvenild does not come through as a phenomenal pianist, but then again the context would be ill-suited for a display of virtuosity. The focus remains solely on melody, even though there is more going on underneath it than what meets the ear at first, and the listener is invited to let himself or herself get carried away on the gentle ripples of the trio's tunes. Highlights include the tender "How to Get Acquainted," "Aerial Dark Bright Round," in which a timpani roll and a few percussive notes of prepared piano are enough to renew In the Country's palette, and the yearning "Viggo," featuring timid yet moving vocals from Hausken in a style that is strongly reminiscent of Arve Henriksen's wordless ballads. Incidentally, Supersilent's trumpeter co-produced the album with the trio.

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