[22 September 2009]
Norway might be known primarily for Vikings and black metal. However, if one tunes out the din of battle axes and down-tuned guitar chaos, he or she might discover the intelligent delicacy of the country’s greatest musical export, jazz pianist Morton Qvenlid. For Whiteout, his third album with his trio In the Country, which also includes drummer Pål Hausken and bassist Roger Arntzen, Qvenlid’s intimate Hymns-era Keith Jarrett-cum-Thom Yorke style of lyricism is met with the uncanny production techniques of Jaga Jazzist mastermind Andreas Mjøs, whose unique flair for creative atmospherics has delivered some of the most quixotic sounds in the Ninja Tune catalog. On the stunning Whiteout, Mjøs, armed with an arsenal of instruments ranging from a Marimba to a Macintosh, provides a means by which to keep In the Country on its collective toes while maintaining the trio’s initial air of spacey romanticism. Yet for everything going on across these seven compositions, this is a quiet album meant to be turned way up to catch every subtle nuance this fine, fine ensemble throws your way.