Hedvig Mollestad Trio
Ding Dong. You’re Dead.
I might not have been there for every single album, and I’ve only reviewed half of them – but I am definitely a fan of Norway’s Hedvig Mollestad Trio. Formed in 2009 by guitarist Mollestad, with bassist Ellen Brekken and drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad, the trio plays full-energy blues-rock guitar instrumentals. But on seventh album, Ding Dong. You’re Dead. I note a few jazz noises being made here.
Opener, Leo Flash’ Return To The Underworld throws everything into the pot – beginning with an almost RATM-styled riff before some Hendrix fire and into a proggy/jazz sequence where odd time signatures dance either side of the central riff.
This is followed by All Flights Cancelled which is more Eric Johnson than Joe Satriani, but certainly reminiscent of that general shred-era, but what I’ve always loved about Hedvig’s playing is that she is constantly exploring; this isn’t about licks and tricks. This is about searching – and though she has a solid technical facility there are moments of controlled-howl feedback and fury where she’s headed more for the hills that house J Mascis than, say, Steve Vai.
Guitar music – straight guitar music – gets boring to me after a while, but the interplay of this trio and the fantastic spirit of the band moving as one collective muscle is what keeps me listening here where some other group might lose me much sooner.
The slow grind of the title track here is a new set of shapes for this trio, weirdly soundtrack-y, almost like something T-Bone Burnett or Daniel Lanois might oversee, if not play. And Gimbal is another nod in the direction of Mascis (if in his Heavy Blanket guise), the rhythm section is ferocious here, like Soundgarden in its prime.
The Hendrix spirit is there again as Magic Mushroom sets off for psychedelic fields – and then a more jazzy approach both to the rhythm section and the guitar work comes in; heavy metal be-bop if you will.
I love the range of styles on this album and the fact that Hedvig and crew know to leave you wanting more/never outstay their welcome. Seven songs, 41 minutes, that is enough when dealing with instrumental guitar rock. No 15 minute frenzies, no 16-track wig-outs. And closer, Four Candles, is another nice direction-shift to moody, low-key soundscaping.
Really lovely and the band is firing at its very best across this album.