*2023 stock* Since Hedvig Mollestad's last albums (2020's "Ekhidna" and 2021's "Tempest Revisited") both won a Norwegian Grammy, she had something to prove with "Maternity Beat". The first big shift is that her band has been expanded; Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, who have worked with Chick Corea, among others, provide the instrumental accompaniment and offer Mollestad new colors to decorate her eccentric prog-ish compositions. We get to hear the full spectrum on the second part of 'On the Horizon', where Mollestad's funk-flecked guitar weaves between complex drum rolls and waves of horns, building into a crescendo that's as tonally complex as it is bombastic. Clearly if notation-heavy jazz-metal isn't your thing, this is gonna be a struggle - but if it is, few artists are attempting to push as hard as Mollestad does on "Maternity Beat".
Each track plays like a mini opus, and the album itself is a double so Mollestad has time to let us fully appreciate her intentions. Moments like 'Little Lucid Demons/Alfons' are bombastic but familiar, while 'All Flights Cancelled' leans into metal more forcefully, playing jammy electric guitar against Trondheim's explosive, noisy throb. When the album phases into full prog, it's like traveling in time - Mollestad's skill is in reigning this in, and emerging with a coherent, quirky set.