Los Angeles

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aec.rngp2202.2 11/2/18 New
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    Los Angeles Rune Grammofon
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Review

Review Text Los Angeles marks the second album in a row -- the first was 2015's Mudflowers -- where Bergen's HP Gundersen's the Last Hurrah!! directly pay homage to the California city's musical heritage. The Vossajazz Festival commissioned him to prepare an evening of his musical discoveries and articulations from "over there" for a spring 2018 concert. For this date he brought back vocalist and lyricist Maesa Pullman, engineer/co-producer Jason Hiller -- who also plays bass and sings backup -- and multi-instrumentalist Kåre Sandvik. He also enlisted an international cast of studio aces who include Hammond organist John "JT" Thomas, saxophonist Jon Irabagon, drummer Bjorn Stæther, guitarist Henrik Paulsen, synthesist Sam Fossbakk, and violinist David Vogt. Where Mudflowers directly referenced L.A.'s historic country-rock scene of the last century wedded to elements of psychedelia, Los Angeles examines the colorful diversity of the sophisticated pop and production of the era -- think of the producers David Axelrod and Peter Asher with the Wrecking Crew and you get the idea. That said, the music reaches beyond the limitations of mere nostalgia, and perhaps that's because it was recorded not in L.A., but in Europe. Gundersen, who plays guitars and sings backup, is a crack melodist with a canny ear for arrangement. While the intro to "The Story" commences with a spooky B-3 worthy of the Electric Prunes' Mass in F Minor, it quickly gives way to a baroque pop song that could have been written and recorded by Judee Sill. First single "Bloodline" weds surf and psychedelia as Pullman's vocals turn the tune inside out with her smoky contralto and silvery falsetto that underscore a haunted longing. In "The Blues," brooding, elegant pop meets modal jazz thanks to a menacing Fender Rhodes and Irabagon's wailing tenor solo above the instrumental swirl. Pullman's lyrics add 21st century shadings via her insight into the complex nature of love and longing. The set's longest track is "Number Seven." Organ, Rhodes, spiky guitars, and a bumping bassline and trap kit carry the sexy minor-key melody while Pullman's phrasing recalls Dusty Springfield's. Irabagon's spiky tenor sax solo and the rhythm section's spooky groove bump, twist, and turn, creating a dizzying psychedelic discotheque feel. It's only in closer "Red Rose" that the Americana flavor of Mudflowers appears, threaded through an atmospheric production sound that weds country-rock to the nightmarish romanticism of Angelo Badalamenti and Van Dyke Parks. Los Angeles succeeds in spades thanks to Gundersen's unwavering belief that pop music is a continuum and point of discovery; these songs are all beautifully written, played, and produced, making the album irresistible. ~ Thom Jurek

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Story
  2. 2. Bloodline
  3. 3. Hold On
  4. 4. Blues
  5. 5. Waltz
  6. 6. Muse
  7. 7. Number Seven
  8. 8. Red Rose

Product Details

Release Date
11/2/18 

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