Opsvik's latest constructs a strange path that's as rewarding as it is surprising.
Bassist/composer Eivind Opsvik's fourth album in his Overseas series shows his art music continuing to pull from jazz, classical, and popular traditions while shifting away from the atmospheric sound of its predecessor. While drawing from quite a few traditions, the album develops in a reasonably linear manner. The first half of the disc takes the majority of its cues from the classical tradition, going back to the Georgian era. While the harpsichord fades out, the shift to more abrasive jazz on “Robbers and Fairground Folk” is surprising but prepared for. That track, featuring Tony Malaby on sax, leads into the almost prog rock of “Michelle Marie”, a number driven by Brandon Seabrook's guitar. The rhythm lines here are complex, emblematic of the precision with which much ostensible chaos has been organized. After this accumulation of tradition, the album closes with “Youth Hopeth All Things, Believeth All Things”, a number that merges a chain gang intro with a metal-sounding guitar part while stretching the tones of the album. It's dissonant enough to be uncomfortable, yet inescapable in its persistent pulse, a fitting close to the arc of Overseas IV.