At first, Ballrogg was the Norwegian duo of reeds player Klaus Ellerhusen Holm, known from Paal Nilssen-Love’s Large Unit and Honest John, and double bass player Roger Arntzen, known from In The Country trio and Chrome Hill Band. The Ballrogg duo released two albums and expanded into a trio with guitarist Ivar Grydeland on its third album, «Cabin Music» (Hubro, 2012). Since 2017 and now on the fifth album of Ballrogg, «Rolling Ball», Swedish versatile guitarist David Stackenäs – who collaborated before with Ellerhusen Holm («Daytons Bluff», Particular Recordings, 2018), played with Mats Gustafsson (including in the Fire! Orchestra) and is a member of Lina Nyberg Quintet, took Grydeland’s place and sounds right at home.
«Rolling Ball» was recorded in Oslo in October 2019 and keeps perfecting Ballrogg’s unique free, chamber Americana aesthetics. Stackenäs composed five of the eight compact pieces and incorporated his own lyric touch, and Ellerhusen Holm composed the remaining three pieces. The music of Ballrogg flows gently and organically, stressing its bucolic melodies, and allows Ellerhusen Holm, Arntzen, and Stackenäs to exchange the leading roles. Peter Margasak who wrote the liner notes compared this kind of natural fluidity to a «road ahead (that) feels more open than ever, suggesting the titular notion of a ball moving forward according to gravity and landscape».
Stackenäs, unlike Grydeland, references Ballrogg’s Americana sonic landscapes in a more reserved and implied manner, except on the cinematic «Miami Weekend», but leaves aside Grydeland’s country & western flavors. The deep tones of Ellerhusen Holm clarinets and Arntzen’ double bass, intensify the dark and lyrical, chamber-like dimension of «Rolling Ball». Stackenäs’ title-piece and Ellerhusen Holm’s «Collage Casual» distill this kind of sparse, patient, and democratic interplay into a contrapuntal splendor. Ellerhusen Holm’s «Multiplié Maximal» brings this kind of exquisite interplay into a profound, meditative, and emotional peak.
Klaus Ellerhusen Holm (b-cl, bcl, bass amp), Roger Arntzen (b), David Stackenäs (g)