Superheavy: Head Bopper

Bassist leads piano, guitar and drums in a high-octane mix of post-Weather Report jazz, rock and improvisation - plus some lyrical leavening

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This richly conceived, often up-and-cooking music begins with some deep toned, spaciously cast and rhythmically supple double-bass pizzicato phrases from leader David Andersson, who I presume is pictured on the front cover – and who also proves to be a dab hand with the electric model.

As the rest of the quartet comes in and Andersson ups the tempo, the music takes off with the sort of thematic development that eventually could seem a touch rushed, but is actually astutely controlled, things slowing down nicely in the rippling reprise that is the coda. The neatly rounded whole sets the tone for a most enjoyable album.

An intelligent, flowing and often high-octane mix of literate, post-Weather Report jazz, selective rock accents and spirited improvisation – exemplified by the title track – gains much from the full-on yet finely focused approach to matters of sound, texture and dynamics shown by Gothenburg-based guitarist Joel Haag. The fleet, chromatically aware Finnish pianist Antti Lähdesmäki and pinpoint Colombian drummer Mario Ochoa are equally impressive.

YouTube has a good 2021 clip of the band playing the rolling and pumping title track, as well as a further cut with vocalist Maja Kirchoff (not heard here) guesting on the funky workout that is Won’t You: for that side of Head Bopper hear The Long Walk. But if this is a smoking, high energy band – sample The Fabulous Frank Fontaine, the sustained, near-heavy metal ostinato repeats (where Ochoa cuts loose) which wrap up Kato, and the riffing, at times lightly Beatles-inflected Woodchuck – it is also an outfit blessed with a telling lyrical bent. Relish the somewhat Nils Felder-like Heart Watcher as well as I Thought I Saw, the opening minutes of Doubt Not The Tide and the concluding Dora’s Diary, an affecting solo feature for Lähdesmäki. Fine stuff, all composed by the impressive Andersson.

Discography
The Fabulous Frank Fontaine; I Thought I Saw; Kato; Head Bopper; Doubt Not The Tide; Heart Watcher; Woodchuck; The Long Walk; Dora’s Diary (44.28)
Daniel Andersson (b, elb); Antti Lähdesmäki (p); Joel Haag (elg); Lähdesmäki (d). Tranemo c. 2020.
AMP AT 093