Swedish, Copenhagen-based guitarist Samuel Hällkvist visualizes his new album «Epik, Didaktik, Pastoral» – released on his 40th birthday – to a walk in a wood. He accommodates himself in this vast, fertile, and blooming universe to nature’s unique, polyrhythmic patterns, self-dividing, self-replicating, and before this trip is over, he knows, if not fully understand, «the math of a particular creator». Therefore «Epik» is for the vastness of the imaginary wood, «Didaktik» because you can learn, and you must learn from it, and «Pastoral» answers the question: is it country, or a country? Yes. Yes, it is. The artwork by British artist Sophie Bass stresses this lively description.
The ten pieces, recorded during 2019 in Halmstad, Copenhagen, Sundon, Milan, and Malmö, create a sonic equivalent to the vivid, hyperkinetic wood, an organism that has its own laws, its own kind of chaotic order and its own pulse. Surrendering to this sonic ecosystem allows Hällkvist, or the listener, to find his footing, to be able to stand erect, self-assured, attentive to the earth’s odd pulse, in its own time.
Hällkvist is joined by a group of close collaborators, including partner Katrine Amsler who did the sound design, British-Bahraini trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, Meshuggah bass player Dick Lövgren and Norwegian bass player Anne Marte Eggen. He composed arranged and edited minimalist yet highly detailed textures, relying on sensual-driving grooves. These rich textures sound like a fresh and quite slim version of prog-rock and fusion embroidered with jazzy and world music veins, navigating joyfully in colorful territories that live by odd pulses. His unconventional and acrobatic guitar riffs and Midi programming keyboards clearly avoid any display of showing off and always inject enigmatic-exotic sonic scents.
Take a ride in Hällkvist’s fascinating wood. You may find more reasons why we all should cultivate such sonic woods, as we should guard the welfare of our planet.
Samuel Hällkvist (g, MIDI prog), Knut Finsrud (dr), Dick Lövgren (b), Katrine Amsler (sound design, prog), Anne Marte Eggen (b), Yazz Ahmed (tp), Luca Calabrese (tp), Noel Langley (tp)