There are certain things in life which strike me with an irrational fear – multi storey car parks, wasps and broccoli being amongst them (and don’t even get me started on rhubarb…). And from a purely music review perspective, not far behind them are albums of entirely instrumental music, with tracks at least 9 minutes long complete with epic guitar solos. So I cant deny that I approached the new album from instrumental band Vestbo Trio with slight trepidation, and concerns that whilst this might all be very clever musically, that it could sail way over my head and be lost on me completely.
But we only write about things we like at Nordic Music Review, so the fact that I’m writing about it shows that my fears were unfounded, and that once again what a real privilege it is to get exposed to music that otherwise I probably wouldn’t have listened to. The new album ‘While You Were Gone’, produced by Lars Skjærbæk is a genuinely good listen – its inventive, full of melodies and never dull.
The strength of the album is firstly founded upon precision and a real attention to detail. Every resonance and silence appears to be carefully considered, there are subtle changes to guitar sounds, and almost unnoticeable crescendos and shades that demonstrate really natural musicians enjoying what they do. But the tracks have great tunes and ideas too, the themes are never over used, and with each track being around 3 minutes long, it never seems torturous or repetitive - if anything I’m always left wanting more.
The opening track ‘All My Fingers Are Thumbs’ sets the tone, a simple enough theme which is developed with bass and then other instruments, and demonstrating early the jazz and blues influences of the trio. And ‘Whitehall Tires’ has the most beautifully written ballad style tune, delicate and thoughtful - even if it seems to be almost gone in an instant. ‘While You Were Gone’ introduces a cello and then other strings, always a good move when used in the right way, and it’s the highlight of the album, completely understated and captivating - and every time it leaves me turning up the volume on my music system to try to capture every sound. ‘Cissy Strut; is slightly less appealing to my ears, but I just love the guitar sounds in‘Mudslide’. ‘The final track on the album is the gentle and excuisitely written ‘Leaving Home’, it’s a lovely slightly melancholy way to end the album.
This on appearance may seem like another album (following on from our Code Electro review) which will only appeal to a relatively ‘narrow’ audience. But actually anyone with a real appreciation of beautifully written and performed music should get huge enjoyment from this – and those that relish the real technical subtleties of production and performance will love the sounds emanating from their high range music speakers. Having now heard a previous ‘Vestbo Trio’ album ‘Less Talk’, this new release does seem more accessible and easier to fall in love with. 'While You Were Gone' has, once again, opened my eyes and ears to the wonderful music on offer across the musical spectrum, and this album is a real delight.