June 13, 2024

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CD review: Rymden feat. John Scofield – Valleys & Mountains – 2023: Video, CD cover

After their previous excursions into the outer cosmos – the highly acclaimed studio albums “Reflections and Odysseys”, “Space Sailors” and the powerful live album “RYMDEN+KORK” – RYMDEN have returned to Earth with their new album, “Valleys and Mountains”.

However, as one might expect from the trio of Bugge Wesseltoft, Magnus Öström and Dan Berglund, the music is not strictly earthbound – the inner cosmos, dreams and visions offer new spaces to explore, alongside bucolic rambles and treks. The instrumentation and techniques are once again diversified, the styles multiplied; yet all remains indisputably the music of RYMDEN.

There is a dual sense of nostalgia and hope for the future, a feeling of rediscovery replacing loss. There is an awareness of the natural world and our place within it, the part it plays in our lives, and how our lives are simply part of something greater than ourselves.

The homages to the natural world all share a childlike quality, a sense of joyful exuberance and freedom, unshackled from our materialistic digital world and its endless bombardment of unnecessary (dis/mis)-information. “The Hike” (by Wesseltoft) captures the many moods that excursions into natural landscapes create – the moments of revelation and wonder, exhaustion and replenishment – and features John Scofield on guitar, purposefully meandering wherever the path may lead. “A Walk in The Woods” and “The Mountain” (both by Öström) have a sprightly lightness that echoes Vince Guaraldi. The music does not seek to emulate nature’s grandeur, but an gives an unequivocal yet humble expression of admiration for it. “Ro” (by Wesseltoft) is a meditative ballad, gently shuffling, sparingly decorated, filled with the tranquility of its title.

The expeditions to the interior world offer a much more sedate set of compositions, largely – and appropriately – more abstract. “Song From The Valley” (a shared composition by the trio) creates a new musical topography of atmospheric and textural elements, abstract, yet familiar, meditative, dramatic, peaceful. “Milam Bardo” (another trio composition) enters a melodic dreamscape, progressing on a steady staccato bowed bassline. “Himmel” (by Berglund) is a pensive, slightly melancholy piece, led by Berglund’s bowed bass, where each of the trio apply the lightest of touches to their playing before ascending steadily to a driving yet atmospheric denouement that gently deconstructs towards silence.

1. The Hike (7:41)
2. A Walk in the Woods (5:38)
3. Milam Bardo (2:56)
4. RO (5:24)
5. The Mountain (7:57)
6. Song from the Valley (7:47)
7. Himmel (6:35)

Bugge Wesseltoft, piano
Magnus Öström, drums
Dan Berglund, bass
John Scofield, guitar

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