Nypan – Stereotomic
(Losen Records LOS 168-2. CD Review by Jane Mann)
Losen Records have just released Stereotomic, a new album by the quartet Nypan. This is Norwegian guitarist Øyvind Nypan’s fourth album as band leader, and all the compositions are his own.
The musicians are Øyvind Nypan, guitar, fellow Norwegians Bernt Moen, piano and Ole Mofjell drums, and Swedish double bass player Egil Kalman.
The material was recorded live at the University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway, after a day’s rehearsal. Nypan states: “The charts were handed to the musicians as they arrived at the recording studio…we wanted everyone to have an open mind before we started to play.” Remarkably, “Everything is live, there are no overdubs.”
The CD begins with a stately Zappa-tinged tango called Heavy Hangs the Head, written the day before the recording session, apparently, with plenty of space for Nypan and Moen to solo. Next up is Don’t mind if I do, which showcases Kalman’s nifty bass and Nypan’s talent for writing a good theme. Piece for Peace is a charming and optimistic ballad with a lovely tune which the band all explore by turns before handing over to Moen for a poignant solo piano conclusion. Nypan describes Resignated Driver as having “a McCoy Tyner/Elvin Jones kind of feel” and it certainly allows young drummer Mofjell to demonstrate his skill. Another gentle ballad,
Just for The Record comes next. It is written for trio without piano. Nypan cites Pat Metheny as a major influence, and you can hear it here in the deft tuneful runs he employs to ornament the melody. After this idyll, The Big Rumble Tumble is a dark driving number with a long dissonant piano solo, quite abstract in style, and lots of extended extemporisation from the guitar.
My favourite track is Paris, a ballad which though melancholy has a gently hopeful feel. It was written on Nypan’s return to Paris (where he had lived and worked from 2006-8) after the 2015 terror attacks. This is a spacious piece, with understated playing from all the musicians, and a delicate melody line from Nypan, here showing another influence as a guitarist, Jim Hall.
The final track, This Old Thing, is a lively blues based on a theme Nypan wrote in the 90s when he was a student. The tune charges along, the band sounding like an ensemble who have been playing this number for years, rather than since yesterday. After deft flourishes from all, it comes to a satisfyingly tight finish.
I would be interested to see Nypan live but there appear to be no plans for a UK tour although the Nypan Trio is currently touring Norway.