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April 2005

Hilmar Jensson
Tyft
Songlines

Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson has expanded his trio on Ditty Blei, his sophomore effort for Songlines. The previous record, Tyft, featured Jensson with Jim Black on drums and Andrew D'Angelo on reeds and electronics. This time, trumpeter Herb Robertson and double bassist Trevor Dunn join the three for a more band-oriented set full of rhythmic drive and skronky counterpoint. Ditty Blei is not a blowing session, although blowing occurs; the focus, rather, is interplay, timbral variation and melodic structure. Dunn's chunky, odd-metered bass lines and Black's inspired thwacking anchor most tracks. Jensson is a bare-bones texturalist, not a chops player (Marc Ribot comes to mind). His spectrum runs from the carpet-bomb wailing of "Gobbles" to the thoughtful acoustic ripples of "Correct Me If I'm Right," from the tense but understated lines of "Davu" to the raw post-punk chords of "Grinning." D'Angelo and Robertson are brilliant, separately and together; their unison on "Larf," leaping and happy, contrasts intensely with the darker progression underneath. This is Jensson's writing at its best.

Originally published in April 2005
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