Rolf Kristensen is an associate professor in the wonderfully-named Department of Popular Music at Norway’s University of Agder. He’s also a fine musician. As guitarist, arranger, zitherist and sound engineer, he exerts masterly control over his material here, which at full complement numbers nine, including violin/viola, trumpet and bari sax.
He’s mostly done with guitar shredding after the first chart, and thereafter explores a variety of reflective moods, employing resources only when they have a significant contribution to make and with nods to Terje Rypdal. Not often does one hear synth/electronics explored as a crucial yet non-irritating element of the mix, especially when Kristensen goes ethereal (aided by synths co-arranger Alf Vaksdal on “Cosmic Rain”), though the overall texture when all are present and active is sometimes bland.
Kristensen knows when to clarify, concluding with only himself on board for the final “Echoes”. But rip-roaring it is not.
Kristensen (g); Bernt Moen (p, kyb); Bendik Hofseth (ts); and others. Kristiansand, Norway, 2017.