Reviews RCD2223

As leader of her eponymous Trio, Hedvig Mollestad has already proven herself to be a preternaturally talented guitarist, able to combine powerhouse riffing, jazz fusion shredding and ambient soundscaping with breathtaking pizazz. Now, as the leader of a larger ensemble, with keys and saxophones added into the mix, she's also going out under her own name. Tempest Revisited follows last year's acclaimed solo debut Ekhidna, and was partially inspired by the score to The Tempest by Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim. But an arthouse homage this isn't. As with all of Mollestad's work, this album is shot through with a desire to connect and communicate, her playing and arrangements making potentially 'difficult' music accessible in the best possible way. Sun On A Dark Sky circles around a brooding guitar figure, the other instruments gradually blossoming from its roots, before the sax trio go stratospheric. Winds Approaching is driven by a clapping, slapping rhythm and some fruity brass, while Kittiwakes In Gusts and High Hair recall the muscular skronk of the Trio. Further proof that Mollestad is a truly sublime talent.
Prog (UK)

In contrast to her trio's fiery Ding Dong. You're Dead, Hedvig Mollestad's second outing within 12 months is a decidedly mellower affair. Though it features none of the same personnel aside from Mollestad herself, Tempest Revisited takes a similarly nuanced approach to 2020's Ekhidna, with bassist Trond Frønes, drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad, keyboardist Marte Eberson, and saxophonists Amalie Dahl, Martin Myhre Olsen and Mona Krogstad enabling the guitarist to explore a wider range of styles and vibes. Inspired by Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim's music for the Shakespeare ballet The Tempest and treacherous weather in northwestern Norway, these concepts are mirrored loosely in the music, emerging as snippets of flute-led ambience and a distorted Greek chorus that opens and closes proceedings. The flow is akin to a Rune Grammofon Best Of compilation, touching upon various blends of jazz, progressive and hard rock. "Sun On A Dark Sky" starts things slowly with feathery drum hits, scraping strings and light sax blows. Of course, Mollestad wouldn't be Mollestad if the cut didn't soon turn into a scorcher to the tune of bluesy chords and reverberating organ underlines. The tone and the rugged leading edges of her riffs prove as unmistakable as they are malleable on "Kittiwakes In Gusts" where a naughty guitar solo dispels a lovely saxophone point and counterpoint exchange, and introduces noirish fusion reminiscent of labelmates like Krokofant. But the real gem is the moody and patient "418 (Stairs In Storms)" where smooth guitar phrases navigate around pillars of woodwind smoke and brushed snares. Ultimately, the cut cannot avoid ending with a muscular crescendo, but those preceding moments of tranquillity provide the pinnacle of another excellent Mollestad record.
The Wire (UK)

Idisoyncratic Norwegian jazz guitarist reports in on heavy weather. Tempest Revisited begins calmly with Sun On A Dark Sky, where a shimmering electric piano weaves through saxophone flurries and gauzy guitar. Tension arrives, winds approach and agitated sea-birds spiral. A suite reflecting the distinct phases of a storm, this is closer to the band arrangements of Mike Westbrook and Michael Gibbs than the metal-infused wig-outs Norway's Hedvig Mollestad is more normally associated with, though sections are stuffed with her wild guitar. The inspirational springing-off point is storied Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim's 1979 score for a ballet interpretation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, performed in Mollestad's home town of Ålesund in 1998.0n the 20th anniversary of that recital, she was approached to create a new work — Tempest Revisited. While Mollestad is at her most formal, this album's power and deep cultural roots bring a resonance akin to that of the work of Nordheim. 4/5.
Mojo (UK)

Norwegian guitarist Mollestad is a player of rare brilliance and in her power trio she allies the jazz technique of John McLaughlin with convoluted heavy riffing that wouldn't be out of place on a Led Zeppelin album. On last year's Ekhidna she concentrated on writing for a jazz-rock ensemble and Tempest Revisited is inspired by the music of compatriot composer Arne Nordheim. It's a stylistically diverse set, touching on rock, funk and jazz, with some intense soloing. The three saxophonists play sweetly on 'Sun On A Dark Sky' before her guitar leads the ensemble on a twisting course, while '418 (Stairs In Storms)' is delicate, melodic and full of space.
HiFi News (UK)

Mollestad, meanwhile, bends straight-up jazz into rock formations. opener 'Sun On A Dark Sky' moving from a bucolic wash to a whirling, almost folk-like dervish. Returning to our opening review, this truly is the sound of 'jazz to come. 4/5.
Shindig! (UK)

Mollestad's Trio, whose two shows brought the house down at the recent EFG London Jazz Festival, may have brought her increasing prominence in the jazz and rock world. But it is her longer form writing that is proving even more exciting. 2020's bass-less sextet Ekhidna was a fiery recording replete with crunching analogue keys and fierce sax and trumpet which impressed DownBeat enough to put the composer/guitarist in their '25 for the future' choices (about five years too late). This septet piece, but now with a bass (not however the Trio's formidable Ellen Brekken who was probably off building herself an ice house somewhere in the Arctic Circle) is all the more ambitious. Tempest Revisited is highly structured but bursting with individualistic improv. The composed nature of the piece largely comes from Mollestad drawing upon Arne Nordheim's electronic composition The Tempest, plus her own experience of the furious weather of her north Norway home, Alesund. Thus we have a titanic tussle between structure and primal forces. So the ominous 'Sun on a Dark Sky' opens with a Stravinsky-like flute figure and Mollestad's processed voice, and builds textures as the saxes arrive. Those sax duels deepen on 'Kittiwakes in Gusts' while Mollestad kicks in with a delirious across the bar lines theme, though it is Eberson's superb keys (reminiscent of Dave MacRae) that summon the storm. 'With 418 (Stairs in Storms)' the hurricanoes [sic] yaw, swell and resolve, with Mollestad laying down a mournful yet seductive 'Glistening Glydnebourne' type theme to which the saxes bring their own dead march. Until now Mollestad the guitarist has been content to lay down colours and themes, but with the climactic 'High Hair' she lays down a monster riff and solo that will dissolve the very foundations of your home. With further projects in the pipeline, Mollestad is indeed an artist of the future: but with Tempest Rivisited, she is of vigorous significance today.
Jazzwise (UK)

A much-loved Scottish comedian named his recent autobiography Windswept and Interesting. The title would serve as a tagline for Hedvig Mollestad's Tempest Revisited, except for the realization that her album doesn't get really interesting until the end, which is where the one outbreak of humor occurs. Conceived as a series of responses to fellow Norwegian (electronic) composer Arne Nordheim's The Tempest, Mollestad has constructed variations and meditations that cover the same thematic ground. One might expect, given the provenance and instrumentation, to be reminded of classic Jan Garbarek or Terje Rypdal albums, but the music is actually more retro even than that, with a curious heads-and-solos feel that isn't unpleasing, but doesn't sound very 2021. While "Kittiwakes In Gusts" seems all on one level — and thus not very evocative of small gulls in a gale — the following "418 (Stairs In Storms)" is all build-up, 11 minutes of it, with a tacked-on climax. The best tracks are the powerfully atmospheric "Winds Approaching: on which the small phalanx of horns makes most sense, and the closing "High Hair." Here, she lets the guys loose on a few big fat riffs. It's an exciting album in many ways and testament not so much to Mollestad's guitar playing per se as to her ability to shape a group round the instrument, something Rypdal was never quite willing to do, always remaining the sole front voice. As such, it will appeal to many.
Downbeat (US)

There are no convincing antecedents to Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad's work. The cocktail is so unique and ingredients drawn from such a diversity of sources, any attempt to map a genealogy would look less like a family tree and more like an astronomical chart. Constellations of power chords, thrashing metal and progressive rock intersect the orbits of effects-drenched jazz improvisation; minimalist soundscapes arise and dissipate like elemental vapor; shattering bursts of dense, chaotic guitar shredding flare over hard grooves. Whole galaxies of rich sonic texture swirl. And it is all drawn together by the gravitational pull of Mollestad, who turns 40 this month. Tempest Revisited presents the more overt kinship to jazz structures, though only nominally and dominantly because of the large ensemble comprising instruments often associated with the genre such as saxophones, piano and vibraphone. Examples include tunes like the "kittiwakes in gusts" and "winds approaching", the latter diving into a funky feel with blues-inflected saxophone and an amalgam of groove and swing beats providing fertile ground for solos and trading. Tempest Revisited, however, does not fundamentally depart from Mollestad's signature experimentation, evidenced by the opening "sun on a dark sky", which begins with a rumble of drums and haunting vocals like mutated Gregorian chants followed by additional instruments entering the fray in fractured layers before plunging together into a final propulsive unity.
New York City Jazz Record (US)

Tempest” were chosen to be performed at the opening of Parken, the cultural house in Ålesund (Mollestad’s birthplace). The album’s music was composed as part of a commission by Mollestad to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Parken in 2018, and then adapted from the initial performance and produced by Mollestad in the studio. The musicians include Marte Eberson from the Ekhidna band, Ivar Loe Bjørnstad from her trio and Trond Frønes (Red Kite) on bass as well as three sax players. The album starts with a feeling on unease, with woodwind, trembling percussion, distorted voices and a gentle, repetitive guitar riff on “Sun On A Dark Sky”, and the layers of other instruments gradually join in.  The sensitivity of the build up is first class and Mollestad has mastered the emotional timing of the track beautifully.  Nature, particularly bad weather, is very much present on the 5 tracks, with titles such as “Sun On A Dark Sky”, “Winds Approaching”, “Kittywakes In Gusts” and “418 (Stairs In Storms)”. Her guitar on «418 (Stairs In Storms)» is reminiscent of the early work of Terje Rypdal, and is a highlight of the album. The reserved build up of textures and layers is yet again, outstanding. The name “418” refers to the number of stairs you have to climb to get to a viewpoint in Ålesund. It’s a more lyrical, and less aggressive / riff heavy album than “Ekhidna”, although there are still infectious riffs present, particularly on the last track “High Hair”, where Hedvig yet again proves she is a riff master.  There is also some high-octane shredding at the end of “Winds Approaching”.  There is plenty for lovers of progressive rock fusion to enjoy. If you like “In The Court Of The Crimson King” by King Crimson, you should definitely check out this album, and enjoy the work of one of Norway’s most imaginative artists. 5/6.
Norwegian Rock Magazine (NO)

As I said in my Audion 63 review of Ekhidna, "Hedvig Mollestad has gone a long way since her jazz and metal roots", and here again she's exploring yet many more different new directions. So, when I was expecting something quite furious based on the title, it actually starts rather mellow and laid-back, not hotting-up until 5 minutes into the opening Sun On A Dark Sky's 7:29 duration. And then with a choppy drum bridge we go into Winds Approaching with a very Henry Mancini style triple sax bolstered swing groove, and then it seems to step back in time further (the 1930s?), before diverting to a more interesting modern styled fusion with distorted electric piano. Not much in the way of guitar so far, especially considering it's a guitarists' album, until the very end of this track that is, and just a short burst. Kittywakes In Gusts kind of reminds me of someone like Led Bib, as a kind of raucous twist on the old no wave sound, given a Rypdal touch in its second half, with plenty of guitar for at least a while. Then, 418 (Stairs In Storms) amounts to 11 minutes of mostly laid-back ECM moodiness, until a frenzied guitar crescendo at the end, segueing into the Hendrix meets swing groove of High Hair, which wraps-up the album. In all, an album that's nothing like anything I've come across by Hedvig before, and one where she gives the supporting cast more room than herself. 
Audion (UK)

„Tempest Revisited" ist nicht einfach nur ein neues Album der norwegischen Gitarristin Hedvig Mollestad. Vielmehr hat die Musik, die darauf zu hören ist, eine Menge mit deren Biografie zu tun, aber vor allem mit der Historie des Labels Rune Grammofon. 1998 erschien dort mit „Electric" eine Übersicht über das elektronische Schaffen des auch international renommierten norwegischen Komponisten Arne Nordheim. Dessen zentrales Werk heißt „The Tempest" wiederum und wurde im selben Jahr in Teilen zur Eröffnung des Kulturzentrums in Ålesund aufgeführt. Das ist auch der Geburtsort von Mollestad, weshalb es nahelag, ihr zum 20. Geburtstag 2018 den Kompositionsauftrag zu geben, mit dem sie Nordheims Werk neu interpretiert und verarbeitet. Entstanden ist ein Stück Improvisationsmusik, das die Gitarristin mit einem Septett aufgenommen hat, mit dem sie Teile aus dem Original herausbricht, improvisatorisch bearbeitet und beständig neu gemorphte Phasen zusammenfügt. Auch und gerade deshalb klingen die fünf teils langen Parts ihres „Tempest Revisited" gleichermaßen retrospektiv wie in die Zukunft gerichtet.
Jazzthing (DE)

I Norge er vi vant til mye vær med storm i kastene, også musikalsk. Gitaristen, komponisten og bandlederen Hedvig Mollestad tar nå det stormfulle til et nytt nivå på «Tempest Revisited», hennes tredje albumutgivelse på under to år. Det er en plate hvor hun kombinerer den tunge, seige og ekspressive atmosfæren som ligger som pre-miss for mye av musikken hun skaper, og det lette, luftige og jazzeksperimentelle fra de øvre atmosfæriske lagene. Men det er ikke så mye vær og skiftende skydekke i seg selv som er inspirasjonen til dette verket, som er laget på bestilling i anledning jubileet til Parken Kulturhus i Ålesund, Hedvig Mollestads fødeby. Det ligger en dynamikk og en naturlig flyt i det hele som gjør at Mollestad rent komposisjonsmessig kan bevege seg fra det underfundige og det lydmalende, til det slagkraftige og rocka som gjerne ender i et imaginært splitthopp av en avslutning. Men fremst i lydbildet og stormkastene - om vi ser bort fra Mollestads egen gitar - ligger de tre saksofonistene Martin Myhre Olsen, Karl Nyberg og Peter Erik Vergeni, som sammen og hver for seg spenner buen fra alt til tenor og bortenfor der igjen når det blåser som friskest. Det er iltert og ømt, rytmisk sanseløst og sensuelt berørende om hverandre. Deler av sluttsatsen her er skjønnhetsfylte partier der sola sender varme stråler rett mot hjertet, og det er nesten så man lar seg lure til å tro at alt er idyll før gitar, piskende cymbaler og trommer bringer himmelens vrede ned over det hele. Som i avsluttende «High Hair», som kunne vært en Motorpsycho-låt, med Jon Spencer Blues Explotion og Black Sabbath spøkende I bakgrunnen, bare sånn for å gjenta noe man har sagt om Hedvig Mollestad før, og som understreker at også hun jobber med det samme stykket hele tiden, og i utvidelsene og variasjonene rundt dette ligger også hennes ubestridte genialitet som gitarist, medmusiker og komponist. 5/6.
Dagsavisen (NO)

Hedvig Mollestad er ikke bare en av den norske jazzfaunaens mest hardtklimprende gitarister, hun er også en av de mest hardtarbeidende. På under to år har hun sluppet både et trioalbum (syrerockete Ding Dong. You're Dead) og et album for større og skumlere besetning (Ekhidna). Når hun nå bikker tre album på to år er det med ambisiøse Tempest Revisited, med koblinger til Arne Nordheims monumentale verk Stormen, opprinnelig en ballettforestilling basert på Shakespeares stykke med samme navn. Mollestad har med seg en hel sekstett i tillegg til seg selv; tre saksofoner og en rytmeseksjon med blant annet trio-kollega Ivar Loe Bjørnstad og jazz/pop/progrock-keyboardist Marte Eberson. Til tross for navnet er ikke Tempest Revisited like værhardt som man kunne forestilt seg, der det begynner med en sart og illevarslende fløytemelodi, etterfulgt av tette og messende vokalharmonier og et nesten Opeth-aktig gitarmønster. Misforstå meg rett, det kommer en storm eller to etter stillheten, men i forhold til mange andre Mollestad-utgivelser utforsker denne i større grad mer abstrakte og kollektive lydverdener, heller enn mastodontiske riff og breibeinte gitarsoloer. Både åpningen «Sun On A Dark Sky» og «418 (Stairs In Storms)» gir oss god tid til å boltre oss i bandets samspill og de fargerike produksjonsdetaljene, i tillegg til at vi i større grad får høre Mollestad gjøre atmosfæriske krumspring med fuzzboksen skrudd av, som funker særdeles godt. Det er et bra valg å la de inntrykksmettede klangteppene skinne i fred såpass lenge som de får gjøre på sistnevnte låt, før det braker løs i et jordskjelv av gitar og trommer helt mot slutten, som ramler rett inn i den sympatiske riffingen til albumavslutteren «High Hair», hvor vi får høre litt klassisk Mollestad-riffing, hvis noen begynte å bli bekymret.
Jazznytt (NO)

Supergitarist Hedvig Mollestad folder ut vingene - igjen. Forlokkende fløytetoner innleder Hedvig Mollestads tredje album på halvannet år. Så er det også en meget god periode for artist fra Ålesund. De siste ti årene har hun gjort stor lykke som riffbasert gitarist i sin stadig mer populære trio, som for alvor har sprengt seg ut av jazzklubbene. På 2021s andre album viser Mollestad en litt annen side av sitt musiker-jeg. «Tempest Revisited» er en videreføring av et ambisiøst bestillingsverk fra noen år tilbake, der hun gikk i møte med sin oppveksts natur og Arne Nordheims musikk til balletten «Stormen» (1979). Dette resulterer i en rikere vev av melodier og tekstur, med et større ensemble med full tenning, der spesielt Marte Eberson på diggbare vintage keyboards og den særdeles talentfulle saksofonisten Martin Myhre Olsen gir merkbar lyd. Det dufter 70-tall!

Landskapet Mollestad beveger seg i på disse seneste utgivelsene er noe annerledes enn tidligere. Her, med en dynamikk som er inspirert av det skiftende været langs norskekysten, går det fra det stille til det stormfulle. Mange av bevegelsene i musikken er likevel gjenkjennelig Mollestadsk, eksemplifisert nettopp i hennes gitarspill. Det er djervt og ofte i nesten klyvartede linjer, lik mønstre som bestemt og målrettet karrer seg frem - stundom i repeterende, men like fullt motoriserende riff. For eksempel der hun seiler med de stadig økende vindene i avslutningen av ”Sun On a Dark Sky”, og drar med seg saksofonene og de øvrige medvirkende på ferden. De 418 trappetrinnene opp til Parken, som det hintes til på 11-minutter lange «418 (Stairs In Storms)» starter derimot svært stille, nesten andektig. Klimprende og klingende gitar- og el-piano-toner, som med uforhastede, forsiktige skritt får med seg saksofoner, bass og lett rumlende trommer. Nær slutten, som et lydlig bilde på de imponerende omgivelsene man kan ta inn over seg når man nærmer seg toppen av trappa, aner man tiltakende kraft fra gitaren, som geleider inn til den avsluttende, seige «High Hair». Så får det være at undertegnede opplever «Kittiwinds In Gusts», med dens funkliknende fremdrift, som et lite sidesteg i denne reisen. Som helhet viser «Tempest Revisited» en komponist så vel som en gitarist som er på vei mot andre høyder, etter å ha vært på et par allerede.
Klassekampen (NO)

I sitt tredje album på halvannet år ser gitaristen Hedvig Mollestad seg tilbake til 1998. Året var starten på det som er hennes musikalske hjem, plateselskapet Rune Grammofon, men også året da Arne Nordheim spilte deler av The Tempest på kulturhuset Parken i Ålesund - der Mollestad er født. Inspirert av verket til Nordheim, men også av værforholdene til hjembyen, har Mollestad laget Tempest Revisited. Musikken låter som værforholdene langs vestkysten: uforutsigbart, lumsk og rastløst. Det er samtidig mer dynamisk enn Mollestads tidligere fullengdere, med blåserrekke på tre saksofonister som liksom bryter opp der hvor den forvrengte gitarlyden hennes tidligere kunne møte øret med ett konstant trykk.
Morgenbladet (NO) (2)   (live review)