By Paul Acquaro
I haven't yet heard Overseas I through III, but catching the series here at IV is quite a pleasure. Eivind Opsvik, with his instrumentally eclectic group, creates a world of unfolding soundscapes that run the gamut from precious to powerful. It's an excellent collection of music that packs a lot of surprises.
Possibly the most interesting sound is Opsvik'a use of the harpsichord on songs like the classically-tinged opener 'They Will Hear the Drums – and They Will Answer' and the striking 'Men on Horses'. Jacob Sack's playing, mixed with the sonorous tones of Opsvik's bowed bass, it's a mix rarely heard (at least by me) in the realm of jazz and adds a certain baroque feel to the songs. Tony Malaby's saxophone is a creative and welcome voice as he makes his presence known with an emotion laden solo during the delicate opening song. Kenny Wollesen, whose excellent drum work is a constant throughout the project, is also featured on the opening song where his use of the timpani adds emphasis at key moments.
This recording neatly defies categorization, while it has a strong improvisational component and a compositional complexity that suggests jazz, it also references a diverse and imaginative palette of genres and influences. In contrast to the strong classical elements, Brandon Seabrook's guitar adds a rock dimension, and an early peak comes in '1786', where Malaby delivers an intense free blowing solo that could pop your iPod ear buds out. The start of Michelle Marie suggests something akin to a new wave inspired Robert Fripp riff and the rough hewn textures of 'Robbers and Fairground Folks' is as fine of a progressive rock statement that you will find anywhere.
Overseas IV is a multi-dimensional recording that demands repeat listens. It's a complex soundtrack and a fascinating compositional statement. For what it's worth, I highly recommend giving it a listen.
Check out "1786" here on YouTube - it starts delicately and just builds from there: