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John Moulder: Bifröst

Guitarist John Moulder’s new album belongs on ECM. It has the distant, icy sound of a Jan Garbarek record, and it builds its layers like one of Terje Rypdal’s. Bifröst is a vast, expansive piece of work-a landscape of wide-open spaces and big skies with a decidedly Scandinavian feel (even if Moulder is based in Chicago).

The title track, which opens the disc, starts off innocently enough, with stark lines drawn by Bendik Hofseth’s tenor saxophone. Eight minutes later, relaxation has somehow turned to cacophony, with all the instruments-Hofseth’s sax, Moulder’s guitar, Arild Andersen’s upright bass, Brian Peters’ electric bass and Paul Wertico’s drum kit-swirling around one another, cyclone-like. It’s not always like this, though. Moods vary. “Watch Your Step” and the three-movement “Cold Sea Triptych” edge toward a style that’s based more in folk-and in New Age and even in ambient music-than in blues or improvisation.

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