As pianist Helge Lien announces proudly in the publicity material, he put this album together as “a hybrid of studio- and concert-recordings. Miraculously, however, you can’t hear that.” He wanted the entire program running as a continuous 50-minute piece, which he got. The compact-disc gatefold carefully labels the original source for each tune—both its original Helge Lien album and the recording location for the version furnished here.
No producer credited (although I suspect the leader himself). With the assistance of recording engineer Rune Boro, sound engineer Louise Lavoll, recording assistant Eivind Stromstad, and mixer Asle Karstad, you get one of the most impeccably rendered trio sets in recent memory—your head’s not in the audience, not at the lip of the stage, but right in the middle betwixt Lien’s keyboard, Johannes Eick’s softly plucked bass, Knut Aalefjaer’s sideways-sounding brushwork over the cymbals. Not a whole lot of get-up-and-go pep, although “Folkmost Revisited” does suggest some funk in its thicker moments, the parts that sound like a party-down chorus in between spritely delicacies.
Cut to “Krystall Revisited,” and Aalefjaer’s still angling for that funk, although Lien quite soberly, sensibly, leads him out into mediation, focus, and the slightest noises any of the three can make and still register as present through the microphone. It’s like an underwater soundscape: not soggy, but removed from the surface, absented from all care up top, concerned only with this world’s richness. No place to live, sad but true. An exquisite visit, though.