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Lux Aeterna by Terje Rypdal

Electric guitarist Terje Rypdal has long been at the forefront of Scandinavia’s fusion and avant-garde scenes - that’s him playing on George Russell’s late 60s recordings, not to mention the many ECM recordings he’s played on and helmed. Rypdal’s style is best described as "cold fire" - he can play it hot, spiky and sustained but always with that Nordic cool that makes one envision Northern lights or a very cold but very sunny pastoral scene. Here, TR the guitarist is muted somewhat in favor of TJ the composer - Lux Aeterna is a five-movement composition for a small orchestra and five soloists. The composition of the same name by Georgy Ligeti is an inspiration - the consonant, dense yet ethereal sustained voicings from the organ and strings evoke the music of Ligeti’s used by Stanley Kubrick for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey - but I also hear the specters of Jean Sibelius and Robert Fripp (i.e., the music Fripp composed for the "extended" versions of King Crimson heard on the albums Islands and Lizard). But guitar fans shouldn’t be too dissuaded from this - Rypdal does get in some ferocious, spidery lead/solo space in the 2nd Movement - but if it’s wailin’ guitar and lots of it you’re seeking, it’d be best to seek elsewhere in the TR catalog. The overall mood here is sober, somber and rather austere - dig Iver Kleive’s Phantom of the Opera-in-overdrive-style organ in the 4th Movement - but amid the frosty, shimmering, dark-hued textures, there’s lots of chilly, haunting-as-a-cold-sunset beauty (esp. A.S. Gundersen’s soprano voice) to be found.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Terje Rypdal
  • CD Title: Lux Aeterna
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: ECM
  • Musicians: T.R.: guitar; Ashild S. Gundersen: vocals; Palle Mikkelborg: trumpet; Iver Kleive: organ; Bergen Chamber Ensemble conducted by Kjell Seim.
  • Rating: Three Stars
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