Recommended: Various Artists – “Sky Music: A Tribute to Terje Rypdal”


Let me just get this out of the way right from the start:  I am not a fan of the music of Terje Rypdal.  I find the guitarist’s sound melodramatic and sometimes a little screechy.  His albums veer too often into new age territory for my own tastes, and when he swings in the other direction with some guitar solo fury, it tends to burn away at any melodic beauty built to that point.

There are moments I enjoy.  For instance, this album.  And this one.  And, hey, some stuff on this one, too.  And then this one is arguably my favorite from his discography, viewed as a whole and not just bits of an album I like.  But for the most part, I hear this and this and this, and I just can’t deal.

But, hey, you are welcome to like this guy’s music.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  And my personal dislike of his music isn’t offered up as some sort of repudiation of his standing in the music community.  There’s a whole bunch of musicians who look up to Rypdal, and a bunch of those musicians are ones I’m a fan of.  Take, for instance, this very fun tribute recording, celebrating Rypdal’s 70th birthday.  Sky Music: A Tribute to Terje Rypdal brings together a cadre of the guitarist’s former collaborators, new generation followers, and just plain admirers, and the range of ways they channel his music is a pretty decent facsimile of Rypdal’s own.  There’s a core group that perform Rypdal pieces for about half of the album, and then a series of guests that either perform solo-duo pieces (like Bill Frisell and Erik Friedlander) or join in with the core group (like Jim O’Rourke‘s excellent contribution on the album finale).

What’s particularly nice about how the album gets rolled out is that the core group unleashes all of the fury commonly associated with Rypdal’s music, while the solo and duo pieces highlight Rypdal’s melodic perspective… an attribute that sometimes gets lost in all of the intensity and electronic production.

This is a fun album, and one that I genuinely enjoyed.  No, I’m not a fan of Rypdal’s music, but that opinion is one that has developed over time and with a lot of experience giving him a listen.  An album like this, comprised of musicians expressing their own perspective on Rypdal works, it’s one more door to perhaps encounter a path to connect with the guitar legend’s music.  Whether you’re a long-time fan of his music or if this is the first time you’ve heard of the man, I highly encourage you to check out this recording and Rypdal originals.  There are a lot of music listeners who count Rypdal among their all-time favorites.  It might be the same for you, too.

Your album personnel:  Gard Nilssen (drums), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (electric & double basses), Even Helte Hermansen (electric guitar), Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen (electric guitar), Henry Kaiser (electric guitar), Reine Fiske (electric guitar), Ståle Storløkken (keyboards) and guests:  Erik Friedlander (cello), Bill Frisell (electric guitar), David Torn (electric guitar), Hans Magnus Ryan (electric guitar), Raoul Björkenheim (electric guitar), Nels Cline (electric guitar, bass, loops) and Jim O’Rourke (pedal steel guitar, guitar synthesizer, acoustic guitar, synth, double bass).

Released on Rune Grammofon.

Available at:  Amazon | eMusic

And here’s the official EPK for the recording…