Samuel Hällkvist Dekorum – Live [Boogiepost 2019]

Samuel Hällkvist Dekorum – Live [Boogiepost 2019]

Dec 6, 2019 0 By Marcello Nardi

Conscious I am liable of that concise flattery typical of many magazines reviews, I can’t escape calling Samuel Hällkvist Dekorum live album as the perfect example of what would happen if “Bill Frisell played King Crimson’s Frame by Frame“. Boldly mixing americana flavors with flamboyant interlocking guitars within the framework of a raw and aggressive energy, the Swedish guitarist and his quartet Dekorum craft a piece of music that is way more intricate than it seems. That’s the playground for this catchy comparison, between two giant guitarists such as Frisell and Fripp, for an album prone to be construed as a lucky meeting of influences. Whether leaning more to blues or playing over a simple major chord progression, Hällkvist‘s music is intricate, elusive and ingenious -yet brilliant and singing.

During the last decade or so, Samuel Hällkvist built a reputation for himself as an avantgarde guitarist walking the tightrope between jazz, progressive rock and postminimalism. He worked with such cross genre musicians such as Pat Mastelotto, David Torn, Swedish band Isildurs Bane, which collaboration eventually let to play with prog legends Peter Hammill and Steve Hogarth. He now follows on playing with the Swedish prog band as well as working in more jazz oriented environment, such as with trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, a British rising star in jazz. Looking at his resumé you might feel the lingering suspicion that he wants to deliberately tarnish any potential categorization to place him in. And his own body of releases fans this flame, offering a wide spectrum of ever changing  sounds, inspired by minimalism, contemporary electronica, post-rock or jazz. His latest Variety of Rhythm, a suite in the shape of a 40 minutes journey through multiple many  recurrent rhythmic explorations, is a milestone of his vision. Now he comes back with a live album, a sort of intermediate milestone before releasing a new studio work, and a new line-up. I just wanted something to happen very easyHällkvist points out. I decided to record the show we did (which is the second concert for the band) just for the sake of it. It wasn’t planned that it would be an official release when we did the show. The studio album I’m working on at the moment is taking a long time so it is lots of fun to release a spontaneous thing in between. Also, the studio album has a little different line-up.

The opening In Girum II is a perfect manifesto of that Frisell vs King Crimson daring comparison. A track, which Hällkvist indicates as being prepared just few days before the live recording, starting with a mesmerizing ton of interlocking lines built up against the stark and raw drumming by Knut Finsrud. The pair meets since worked together on Hällkvist‘s Return to Center. Completing the quartet are guitarist Stephan Sieben and bassist Anne Marte Eggen. The leader explains more about the band: I’ve played a lot with Knut since the days of the Jazz in Sweden-award touring in 2010 with my band at the time and many different projects after that. Stephan is an old friend of mine and I truly love his guitar playing. Knut and Stephan was also in Television Pickup. Bass player Anne Marte invited me to play with her band We Float about a year ago so we have played a bit together since then. It was obvious to ask her to join since I knew she would be perfect in this line-up. The energy propelled in the initial minutes of the opening track has a sort of uncanny and hypnotic power. It stems from the combination of rotating rhythmic sections, alternating three and four beats bars, and the raw approach of the quartet. The four almost goof up the shifting structures, until always getting out from under at the end of each bar. At the two minutes and half minute mark Hällkvist plays one of those solos that would be short sighted to overlook. Moving back and forward the beat, he cleverly creates a perfect suspension, a sort of meditative reflection in its own way, over the rhythm.

Four and Return is retrieved from guitarist’s 2013 release Return to Center and rearranged with an ominous and awry rhythmic phasing. Each of the players sneaks off from the others in an hide and seek game, until the fatty power chords and the cumbersome harmonics of the chorus resonate wildly in the room. Another tune was given a deep refreshment, Swarm Robotics from Variety of Loud: where the electronic ambience of the original track created a shade of mystery, now a brooding americana mood puts a spell on the audience. The album closes with another new tune, Svedjebruk, that easily recollects King Crimson‘s Red era. The aggressive angularities -mind Finrud‘s work here- explode in dissonante and ebullient blows of energy.

Samuel Hällkvist is a musician always to be given credit for his inventiveness and plenty of resources and never lets his audience down. I wanted to have a band with friends I know well and live in the same area -he admits. I seriously missed the rehearsal hours with a band vibe, digging into details and learning the music without scores and so. I know I write some strange stuff sometimes, and that can take time to learn by ear. And then chuckles: but I think it is much more fun to play that way than reading music. Dekorum – Live, whether and how this is going to be an intermediate step towards his next studio album, is a fierce, copper-bottomed live recording that deftly shows immediacy within a net of complex music.


Samuel Hällkvist
Dekorum – Live

1.In Girum II 06:40
2.Stilstand i Vand 05:16
3.Four and Return 07:15
4.Swarm Robotics 06:42
5.Gitarr al Dente 04:02
6.Parabola 03:16
7.Svedjebruk 06:52

live at Inkonst / Jazz I Malmö
Malmö Sweden september 18 2019

BoogiePost Recordings

released November 29, 2019

Samuel Hällkvist, guitar
Stephan Sieben, guitar
Anne Marte Eggen, bass
Knut Finsrud, drums

cover art by Sophie Bass
recorded by Jonas Siöström
mixed & mastered by Jesse Emmoth, Signalverket