Aside from being a strange period drama, this film also has action in it. Wollesen's use of broken marches, lurching suddenly into intense rock grooves, transport us out of an Austro-Hungarian drawing room, and into the field of battle, as in “1786,” “Robber and Fairground Folk,” or “Michelle Marie.” Furthermore, his use of various percussive tools, manage to keep the listener grounded in this cinematic fiction, effectively building an imagined landscape for the pieces. On “Youth Hopeth All Things, Believeth all things,” his smashing of a chain on his snare juxtaposed with Malaby's and guitarist Brandon Seabrook's repeated roadhouse blues lick, reminds one of a chain gang marched into a field towards an ominous fate.
One of the most striking elements of this album is the way Opsvik is able to balance the restrained and minimalistic sections, with intensely brutal and chaotic improvisation. Furthermore, though much of the composed material is just a layering of simple parts, they don't fit together totally neatly, and instead put the listener on edge by jarring against each other, creating tension, and very little release. On “Men on Horses,” Wollesen's aggresive clunking on the kit is complimented by loud smashing on the harpsichord by Sacks. Malaby's role on this record is atypical of a saxophonist, as he rarely plays a lead melody, but is usually buried in the middle harmony, or doubling a bass line. His role in this affair is mostly textural, and he has only a few solos. There are times when he is blended into the band so completely, one can barely tell if he's playing on the track. As such, it's a bold move, and a distinct break from the traditional role of the saxophone. There are whole tracks where Malaby will only hold a couple of notes, a sign of restraint, and an understanding of the greater whole by Opsvik and his musicians.
The final piece of this musical puzzle is Brandon Seabrook, the newest addition to the band. Seabrook has one of the more original guitar sounds in recent memory, full of reverb, echo, and a timbre that one can't quite describe. He adds a sonic density to the album that pushes the many of the pieces into hyperdrive, such as on “1786” and “Robber and Fairground Folk.”
Eivind Opsvik has created a truly cinematic experience with Overseas IV, deftly balancing tastefullness with excess, and manages to simultaneously transport the listener back in time 250 years. A unique experience, I look forward to his next album, likely titled Overseas V.
April 17th, 2012 on Loyal Label
- They Will Hear The Drums – And They Will Answer
- Silkweavers' Song
- Men on Horses
- Robber and Fairground Folk
- Michelle Marie
- Nineteen to the Dozen
- Det Kalde Havet
- Youth Hopeth All Things, Believeth All Things
- White Armour
- Kenny Wollesen - drums, cymbals, timpani, vibraphone, marching machine
- Jacob Sacks - harpsichord, farfisa organ, piano
- Tony Malaby - saxophone
- Brandon Seabrook - electric guitar, mandolin
- Eivind Opsvik - bass