** Deluxe (and pricey) edition, remastered from the original tapes ** Recorded over three sessions in 1968, Bleak House marks Terje Rypdal departure from psychedelic group The Dream and off to explore further territories. He would later become one of the most recognisable instrumentalist in european jazz, with releases on the Ecm label filled to the brim with his searingly exciting future-tundra guitar sounds.
By this time in 1968, he was already in an almost unique position in the Norwegian music scene, at a crucial crossroads between the parallel galaxies of contemporary composition, modern jazz and progressive rock. With a go-ahead from Polydor, Rypdal set up in the studio with Jan Garbarek, Knut Riisnæs, Jon Christensen and Christian Reim (The Dream) to record his solo debut. It is an album that influenced a generation of innovative Norwegian artists and continues to do so to this day. A landmark Norwegian classic, remastered from the original tapes and with liner notes written by Rob Young (Former editor of The Wire and author of Electric Eden)
"Those of you who know Rypdal's usual works will be in for quite a surprise with this debut album, Bleak House, released in early 69 on the Polydor label, and it is quite different to his later works with the ECM label. Indeed, this album's line-up is mostly made from local Norwegian musicians (although I detect a few Danish or German names), of which only Garbarek and Terje are the familiar names to an international crowd. You'll also find some excellent (and rather unusual for jazz) Hammond organ, some vocals, and a fairly large horn section, used somewhat sparingly. The opening 7 minute Dead Man Tale is a mid-tempo blues song loaded with Hammond organ, Terje's lungs both belting out a soft vocal and an enchanting flute. The 4 minute Wes is more of a big band affair, with some massive horn section sounds, a Reinhardt-ian guitar and some enthralling rhythms. The three-parts Winter Serenade is in contrast a very different affair, so quiet in its Falling Snow movement, with only Terje's guitar and Reim's piano. When Garbarek and Neumann's saxophones enter the piece, chaos and mayhem appear, indeed hinting at the Snow Storm movement. The suite ends calmly as the Snow Melts gently with Reim's piano. On the flipside, the 7 minute title track is an absolutely amazing mid-tempo big band piece, starting gently with the horn section providing great answers to Rypdal wild but restrained electric guitar. It's not long before the horns take up the whole back space, before Terje's guitar goes for some heroics, never too strident, leaving some space for Garbrek's dramatic sax solo, and then taking football all the way down the rest of the track to the end zone for an amazing touchdown. Fantastic stuff, even if you wished some slight chord changes in the brass arrangements. The soft big-band Sonority is a slow-paced gentle track, where Rypdal's sleepy guitar weeps gently from you speakers. Closing the album, Terje scats gently A Feeling Of Harmony all alone, his acoustic guitar, his sole voice and his gentle flute.