The pan-European quartet Hitra was born at the Norwegian Academy of Music (Norges Musikkhøgskole) in Oslo and features Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson (a teacher in the Academy, known for his trio TYFT and drummer Jim Black’s AlasNoAxis), Italian pianist Alessandro Sgobbio (did his master’s degree in the Academy and plays in another Oslo-based band, Silent Fires), and Norwegian bass player Jo Berger Myhre (known from the band Splashgirl and his solo albums), and drummer Øyvind Skarbø (leader of Skarbø Skulekorps). Hitra’s debut album, «Transparence», was composed and produced by Sgobbio and recorded at Westerdals Oslo ACT in October 2017.
Hitra is inspired by Norwegian county which covers a hundred islands, islets and skerries, and is titled after the island Hitra, the largest island south of the Lofoten archipelago. Accordingly, Hitra’s music is spacious and open to improvisation, genre-fluid, and travels into real and imaginary, lost and hidden sonic sceneries.
The opening, enigmatic and cinematic «Lebtit» evokes the homonym lost city, whose mysterious story is told in «One Thousand and One Nights», as well as in the story of Jorge Louis Borges («The Chamber of the Statues») and the book of Georges Perec («Life: A User’s Manual»). This mysterious atmosphere is intensified by the thorny and tense interplay of Jensson and Sgobbio on «Sêtu» and on the lyrical yet dramatic «Künftiges».
Berger Myhre’s effects-laden, atmospheric solo bass on «The Perfect Light Of Sandstad» (named after a village of the Hitra municipality) deepens this mysterious vein and introduces Jensson’s masterful guitar solo on «Cité Des Poètes» (an elegy to the recently-demolished adventurous housing project in the Parisian suburbs), close in its spirit to the iconic guitar work of Terje Rypdal, and the dramatic interplay of Hitra. «Labtayt» (another name of the mysterious city described in «One Thousand and One Nights»), «To See Was To Be» and «Lebenslauf» highlight all the poetic, elusive and suggestive textures of Hitra, and stress the delicate colors that Skarbø’s oneiric percussion, bells, papers and whistles add to these enigmatic textures.
Only 33-minute long but full of nuanced, compelling stories.
Hilmar Jensson (g), Alessandro Sgobbio (p), Jo Berger Myhre (b), Øyvind Skarbø (dr)