It's so nice to hear different fusion being made. Bassist Opvind has a taste for the refinedly offbeat in this collection sliding perfectly between traditional modes and very sneakily revolutionary atmospheres. The opener, Neil, a take on and trib to Neil Young, slow dances with the classic Harvest LP in a moodily slurring fashion that breaks down into a strange noise section in the middle, seamlessly matching what should have been jarring, transporting it into a quizzically excellent contrastive element. The follower, Everseas, is an extremely down-tempo cut, almost quiescent—kinda like John Abercrombie's Still, one of the most motionless songs ever written—flowing like a Siberian river, icebound and sluggish with Kenny Wolleson's percussives brilliantly muted to enhance gestures and muffled musicality rather than time-keeping.
Overseas III could have been an ECM disc, but ECM would never publish something like this—not sure why exactly (and I have several hundred ECM LPs and CDs) but there are elements here that just wouldn't size up even with Manfred Eicher's uber-refined ear, more's the pity. Opsvik borrowed Larry Campbell from Dylan, and he injects the kind of steel guitar lines you wish to hell B.J. Cole would've come up with on his own many sessions, the sort we had to wait for Harold Budd to craft. This, of course, touches on Eyvind's affinities for Pink Floyd and progrock, though the Floyd never wrote the kind of blowing that Tony Malaby sticks in, sax wailing and bleating, taking the cut Everseas outside itself (sorry, but Raph Ravenscroft just couldn't cut this kind of gig).
The closer, Lull of Lumber, is a 15-minute opus giving Malaby chances to wax Dewey Redman-ish as Campbell weaves a web around his lines, keyboardist Jacob Sacks tossing piano lines in all over the place, every single one matrixed but independent. Throughout, as is the case in the entire release, Opsvik wields a very quiet bass that's just there like the ground beneath our feet, fundamental but often unnoticed until it's taken away. In sum, though, it's really his compositional prowess that proves so unsual. Overseas III won't be for everyone, but, for those falling into its desmesnes, it's going to demand multiple listens, especially for those very unorthodox atonal sections, because "no one" is doing what this guy is. How appreciated is that? Well, just before this CD, he appeared in a quartet gig with Sacks, viola player Mat Maneri (an ECM alumnus and a stunningly outside cat), and drumming legend Paul Motion (also an ECM alum, and if you haven't caught Motion's music yet, what the hell are you doing just sitting there???). Though Opsvik is unknown, it's not like he's… "unknown".
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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