After The Rain
Terje Rypdal electric and acoustic guitars, string ensemble, piano, electric piano, soprano saxophone, flute, tubular bells, bells
Inger Lise Rypdal voice
Recorded August, 1976 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Konghaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
With an incendiary initiation on Jan Garbarek’s Afric Pepperbird, and after successfully leading far-reaching experiments like his first self-titled project and the plush Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away, Terje Rypdal opened a new door for ECM when he stepped into the studio to record perhaps his most intimate statement to date. In spite of their brevity, the ten tracks on After The Rain flow in a single 38-minute ode to the almost painful depths of life’s greatest joys. Rypdal overdubs every instrument himself, with his then-wife, vocalist Inger Lise, providing the occasional organic touch. Shielded by a holy trinity of intimacy, sincerity, and fearlessness, Rypdal plunges with open eyes into the darkest eddies of his emotional waters. An electric keyboard provides much of the album’s supportive breadth, as in the heavily flanged gem that is “Air.” Rypdal gives us a rare acoustic taste in “Now And Then,” and in “Wind” an even rarer flute solo. The title track breathes in a cloudless sky, Rypdal’s electric cello-like in its weighted grace. Wind chimes complete the illusion of the cover art’s open plain. A string of vignettes, among them the utterly poignant “Little Bell,” leads us to “Like A Child, Like A Song,” bringing its hands together in humble elegy.
Hanging words such as “atmospheric,” “evocative,” or “lyrical” on this Christmas tree would only topple it in a shower of withered needles. One might say the title refers not to the music itself, which if anything feels drenched, but rather to its lingering effects. I sometimes imagine the synthesizer here as a substitute for an unavailable orchestra, the presence of which would have created an entirely different, Eberhard Weber-like, experience. As it is, its sedation lends a potent archival ascendency and distills the soaring solos within. Rypdal’s keening guitar percolates through the album’s semi-porous cloth like sunlight through the veil over a face of one who has seen the world only through the wavering screen of tears, and never in the clarity of day. It is a style of playing that falls even as it rises. At his profoundest moments, Rypdal inspires a humbling lack of vocabulary with which to describe what one hears. In which case, After the Rain is filled with silence.