The first installment in experimental guitarist Henrik Olsson’s Hand of Benediction (borrowing the clinical-medical term, also known as preacher’s hand, which describes the damage of the median nerve that occurs as a result of prolonged compression at the forearm or elbow), offered semi-occult, free-jazz drama that made full use of the highly personal and often eccentric voices of the Copenhagen-bassed trio. The second installment, Hand of Benediction II, of the Swedish guitarist expands the trio of himself on guitars and synth, bassist Jeppe Skovbakke and drummer Rune Lohse with Norwegian modular synth player Egil Kalman.
Olsson’s approach is both highly personal and exploratory. He welcomes a myriad of stylistic references and sound universes and allows these references to alternate fluidly in his compositions. The addition of Kalman adds an unpredictable edge and obviously, vintage, spacey sounds to the compact guitar-bass-drums format and highlights further the strong voices and the collective creativity of the quartet.
Hand of Benediction II offer 15 concise pieces, some last a few seconds, and other a few, brief moment. The quartet articulates a simple idea, stretch it in any possible angle, and then attempts to distort and deconstruct it while investigating timbral and textural subtleties, before moving to the next piece. Olsson’s quartet works in a hyperactive mode, with a mad scientist’s mathematical precision, reckless power and engaging sense of fun, drama and irony. Whenever you may think that you managed to crack this quartet mode of operation, it will kick you to another sound universe, from free jazz to prog-rock, pop songs, surf-rock, punk, meditative drones and back to free improvisation. It lasts only 41 minutes but most likely, you may feel that you have circled many sound universes.
Henrik Olsson (el.g, synth, overdubs) Egil Kalman (modular synth), Jeppe Skovbakke (el.b), Rune Lohse (dr)