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Aadal (Norway) – Voyager (title track from album)

Aadal, the jazz-rock fusion band out of southern Norway fronted by Michael Aadal, featured twice in NMC last year, in the form of a video and a live review coming out of a gig in Manchester.

Now they’ve released a new, third, album, ‘Voyager’, and in anticipation, if that’s the right word, of a return to the UK in November.

This album seems to have a nautical theme, with titles like ‘Atlantis,’ ‘Oceans Apart’, ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Red Sky’ as well as the title track and I concluded that title track would suffice to get a feel for it.

The problem with jazz, to a layman like me, is that it is usually – although not always – lyric-less. Hence it can only evocate, let alone emote, through the music.

I discovered in the live show that Aadal fall between two camps. They are a jazz band and a rock band (the final song really rocked out) but ne’er the twain shall meet.

And ‘Voyager’ the track is a case in point.

It starts off with Michael’s restrained, tuneful guitar melody, the sort that might be played on the porch of a cabin in the Appalachian dusk, and which, if you’re in the evocating mood might be interpreted as suggestive of a yacht slowly sailing out of harbour.

Even though written in 3/4 time this is no waltz. When the sax comes in all the sails are out and the journey is underway across a calm sea.

But many Aadal songs progress rapidly from a calm tempo to a manic one, ‘Voyager’ being no different. The last 60 seconds or so are quite frenzied, the sax and drums in particular combining to suggest something worse than a squall, perhaps a full-blow storm and “man overboard!” before a triumphant sax blast and accompanying drum roll put you at your ease: all is under control.

By now you’re probably wondering ‘what is this guy talking about?’ but trust me, if you’re listening to a genre mix of which you have limited experience I think you’ll find it helps massively to allow yourself to wander amongst random thoughts like this and to create a story in your own mind.

And I might add that when they perform these songs live the effect is hugely pronounced and the atmosphere becomes even more suggestive. Before you know it you’ll be on the high seas with them.

Aadal are Michael Aadal – guitar, André Kassen – tenor sax, Audun Ramo – double bass and Gunnar Sæter – drums.

I’ve just got to mention the image they chose for this album (see photo). That’s the ‘Local Shop’ from ‘The League of Gentlemen’ isn’t it? That little blue signpost should read Royton Vasey.

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