Terje Rypdal
Odyssey


4.5
superb

Review

by JamieTwort CONTRIBUTOR (27 Reviews)
August 30th, 2013 | 36 replies | 1,072 views


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With Odyssey, Rypdal proves just what a unique talent he is, blending jazz fusion with atmospheric ambience while incorporating his trademark emotional guitar style.

Very few, if any, jazz guitarists can claim to have such an emotionally charged guitar style as Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal. Having emerged in the late 60’s, Rypdal has remained a prominent figure in Norway’s jazz scene and for most of his career has contributed greatly to German jazz label ECM’s impressive discography. Boasting a unique approach to jazz and fusion guitar playing, Rypdal has not only enjoyed an impressive and prolific solo career but has also collaborated with a great number of other highly respected jazz musicians such as Ketil Bjornstad and David Darling. However it is his 1975 solo double album, Odyssey, that stands as his definitive album.

The listener is immediately greeted with Rypdal’s soaring lead guitar in the opening track, Darkness Falls. Rypdal’s guitar tone sounds like a cross between that of David Gilmour’s and Gary Moore’s, crystal clear with enough vibrato to allow for further expression through his expert phrasing. Unlike a lot of jazz or jazz-fusion guitar players, Rypdal focusses more on melody and feeling than he does on groove and technicality and it’s this feel for emotion that makes Odyssey such an engaging listen, allowing the listener to tap into the moods and atmospheres of the music, creating a very moving and intense listening experience.

The album’s second track, Midnite, is based around a hypnotic, slow building rhythm which provides a basis for the layered instrumentation that is used so effectively throughout the album. Torbjorn Sunde’s eerie Trombone and Rypdal’s subdued guitar playing weave through Svein Christiansen’s gentle but precise percussion creating a fairly dark and intense atmosphere. Rypdal’s guitar playing doesn’t become a dominant force in the song until well after the half way mark, giving the soaring lead an even greater impact when it eventually arrives towards the latter stages of the song. Adagio follows a similar pattern in terms of structure but relies more on atmospheric ambience than the subtle hypnotic groove heard on Midnite. Adagio stands out as one of the album’s highlights, creating a transcendent atmosphere before climaxing with one of Rypdal’s finest guitar solos. The Norwegian guitarist manages to maintain a remarkable level of emotional intensity throughout this lengthy guitar solo, recalling the kind of fluidity heard in Steve Hackett’s legendary Firth of Fifth solo.

While it is Rypdal’s guitar that is the main highlight here, the guitarist also allows the other instruments to play their part, not just as a backdrop for his soaring leads, but also as the driving force behind much of the material. Sunde’s trombone and Brynjulf Blix’s organ are both used to great effect throughout the album while Sveinung Hovensjo (bass) and Svein Christiansen (drums) provide a faultless rhythm section that is at its most impressive during the album’s more rock influenced tracks such as the excellent Over Bikerot. However Hovensjo’s bass work plays an equally important part during the more laid back material such as the beautiful Ballade where the bassist lays down some excellent, relaxed bass lines that help carry the song’s melody as well as provide a solid backdrop for the rest of the instruments.

Odyssey closes with what is perhaps its most ambitious track, the 24 minute Rolling Stone. This epic closer starts off with a typically atmospheric intro before leading into a more rock based rhythm led by a plodding guitar riff from Rypdal augmented by Christiansen’s creative drumming. The song then leads into an epic jam session where all five band members are given a certain amount of room to stretch out, with the exception of Hovensjo whose repetitive bass line provides the necessary restraint to keep the whole thing firmly under control. Blix’s organ playing is explorative but for the most part concentrates on providing atmosphere while Rypdal lays down some of his most creative and exciting guitar playing. The track reaches its climax when Rypdal returns to the song’s original guitar riff while Blix’s organ becomes noticeably heavier and more prominent before the song slowly fades out. Rolling Stone is without doubt one of the standout tracks on the album, standing alongside Adagio as one of Rypdal’s finest achievements.

If there’s one criticism that could be applied to Odyssey it’s the fact that for some listeners, there may not be enough musical diversity throughout the album’s 85 minute run time. That being said however, the album isn’t completely lacking in stylistic variety, the rock influences heard in Over Bikerot and Rolling Stone provide a good contrast to softer tracks such as Ballade and Fare Well, and there is more than enough creativity flowing through the lengthier songs to justify their (and the album’s) duration.

Overall Odyssey is a superb album featuring some truly remarkable guitar playing from one of the jazz scenes most overlooked guitarists. This album is highly recommended to anyone who has an interest in the more experimental side of jazz or even those who aren’t familiar with jazz but have a keen interest in electric guitar playing in general.



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user ratings (2)
Chart.
4.8
classic

Comments:Add a Comment 
JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



20260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Note: This album was re-released some time ago without the closing track Rolling Stone, which as I have mentioned in the review is one of the album's highlights. In order to find a version with that track in it's rightful place you need to look for the original 1975 release or the recent reissue titled Odyssey: In Studio & In Concert.

As always feedback on the review is welcomed.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



19609 Comments


damn bro, massive review and really well-written. I'm actually looking to get into jazz now so this couldn't have come at a better time. Pos hard

Digging: The Who - Tommy

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



20260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man.

This is actually a pretty good album for someone like you only just getting into jazz as it has some similarities to progressive rock instrumentation. I can definitely see you digging it.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



19609 Comments


awesome, i'm sure i'll like it. I don't see it on youtube though any chance it's on spotify? Also feel free to rec me any other jazz essentials cause i've pretty much only heard hank crawford lol

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



20260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The individual songs are on youtube but it's not on there as full album I don't think. And no it's not on Spotify I'm afraid. I have the recent reissue box set so can't help you out with a link either I'm afraid.

Here's a few personal favourites that I think are good for people new to jazz:
Chico Hamilton - The Dealer
Mahavishnu Orchestra - Inner Mounting Flame
Billy Cobham - Spectrum
Nucleus - Elastic Rock

Some of those are jazz fusion, which I think you'll have no problem getting into as fusion shares a lot similarities with prog.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



19609 Comments


sweet thanks bro. i'll look for the individual songs but i'll also keep those album suggestions in mind :D

ResidentNihilist
August 30th 2013



1003 Comments


Great guitarist and fucking great review. JT have you ever listened to anything by Ralph Towner or Eberhard Weber?

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



20260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks dude.

No I haven't, I've heard good things about Ralph Towner but never actually listened to him. I'll check them both out at some point.

manosg
August 30th 2013



5869 Comments


Even though it's not exactly my thing, your review made me interested.

Very well written with some excellent descriptions. pos ofc.

Digging: Anacrusis - Manic Impressions

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



20260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man. I'm sure even if this isn't your thing you'd appreciate Rypdal's guitar playing. He plays in that emotional style that
I know you love.

manosg
August 30th 2013



5869 Comments


Indeed. I've found a Grooveshark link that includes a few songs out of this album and I'll definitely give them a listen. Here's the link for anyone who's interested:

http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Odyssey/4904286

Nagrarok
August 30th 2013



8170 Comments


Always nice to spot a JT review. As has more often been the case it does have me interested in the album. Easily pos'd.

This album was re-released some time ago without the closing track Rolling Stone, which as I have mentioned in the review is one of the album's highlights.


Sometimes they do such silly things.


JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



20260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Nag.

Yeah I can't really understand why they'd do that. I guess they wanted to release it as a single disc album opposed to a double album but to completely remove a song of that length is crazy.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



19609 Comments


surprisingly this is on itunes, but it doesn't have the song 'rolling stone'

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



20260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ahh, typical.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



19609 Comments


nvmd, i guess they have the in studio & in concert album too but it's $24.99 lol

wacknizzle
August 30th 2013



12872 Comments


Great review man, listening to the track Midnight and it sounds awesome. Gotta find a link for this

Digging: Plebeian Grandstand - Lowgazers

ButteryBiscuitBass
August 30th 2013



9874 Comments


Informative review and very well written. My only gripe is that it's a bit matter of fact in places and loses connection with the reader, but that is just may way of thinking. Regardless it is a high class write up. POS'd

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2013



20260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks wack. Hope you find a version that includes Rolling Stone.

Thanks Buttery, you might have a point but I tend to steer clear of personal and informal reviews so that might be one of the reasons why.

ButteryBiscuitBass
August 30th 2013



9874 Comments


I'll stress that this is an awesome review, man. I'll definitely be checking this.



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