Three Day Moon
Barre Phillips bass
Terje Rypdal guitar, guitar synthesizer, organ
Dieter Feichtner synthesizer
Trilok Gurtu tabla, percussion
Recorded March 1978 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
I have said it before and I will say it again: Barre Phillips is one of ECM’s most underrecognized treasures. A maverick of the upright bass, his is a mind in which one revels getting lost. This follow-up to 1976’s Mountainscapes is the genesis to the latter’s messiah. From Dieter Feichtner’s opening synth in “A-i-a” and its attendant bass line, we are immediately engaged in a dialogue that is untranslatable except via the grace of its performance. Electric guitar accents from Terje Rypdal, who feels right at home here, billow backwards from the stratosphere into fissures of sonic earth. Rypdal swaps axe for organ in “Ms. P.,” unfurling a shimmering heat in which the breath of bass turns to steam. Even spacier touches await us in “La Folle” and “Ingulz-Buz.” Farther-reaching abstractions mesh into the neutral colors of electric guitar and bowed bass, respectively, throughout these intertidal interludes. “Brd” puts me in mind of Paul Schütze’s Stateless (especially the track “Cool Engines”): strung by a steady bass line and tabla, the latter courtesy of Trilok Gurtu, and Rypdal’s continued ploys, each bead reveals new insights with every listen. If Rypdal has been a key figure in the album’s narrative thus far, for the final “S. C. & W.” he morphs into a demigod. Backed by an insectile arpeggiator, alongside bombilations from bass, Rypdal gets tricky with the effects, at times lapsing into R2-D2-like articulations, but always with integrity. An emblematic closer.
Grandiose, cinematic, and meticulously constructed, Three Day Moon once more proves Phillips to be one of jazz’s best-kept secrets. The album also sports one of the most evocative ECM sleeves of the seventies, with sonic innards to match.