Terje Rypdal guitar, keyboards, flute
Palle Mikkelborg trumpet, fluegelhorn, keyboards
Jon Christensen drums, percussion
Recorded March 1979 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Before hearing the opener that lightens Descendre, I believed that the introduction was a thriving art form. Entitled “Avskjed” (Farewell), it works its distant organ, glockenspiel, and muted trumpet through the nocturnal folds of a weightless security. In a mere three minutes, I hear sunrise, worldly virtue, and restraint rolled into a single entity. Rypdal’s palimpsestial motifs grace the edges of dense brass and sudden exhalations. The album is full of such moments, unexpected and eternal. Nestled in the tessellation of Jon Christensen and Palle Mikkelborg, that unmistakable guitar cuts its swath through the swells and squawks of “Circles,” on through the trembling “Men Of Mystery,” and ending on the delicate considerations of “Speil,” where kaleidoscopic keyboards abound. Standouts include the title track, where Christensen’s melodic sensibilities shine forth and Rypdal’s solos brand themselves into our hearts like the icy stares of advertising icons in Blade Runner, and “Innseiling” (Approach), a masterful slice of transcendence that guides Mikkelborg to glorious heights. With every change of light, bright resolutions and shadowy recollections are revealed, betraying the raging fire behind its glacial surface.
An elegy in emotional unrest, Descendre is a must-have for any Rypdal veteran and greenhorn alike. Like its title, it descends with every sonic verb, reminding us that conjugations never end.
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2 thoughts on “Terje Rypdal: Descendre (ECM 1144)”
I became a Rypdal follower after reading a Guitar Player interview with Terje in the mid 1970s. Descendre would rank among my favourites, along with Waves and Odyssey, each of which highlight his lyricism and command of atmospherics. Rypdal, to my mind, is a true original who displays a truly unique voice on the Stratocaster and who has expanded the boundaries of the electric guitar like no other without forgetting his roots (witness ‘Hideaway’ on Youtube).
My introduction to Rypdal was Waves, but What Comes After was the album that turned me on, his guitar playing is unmistakable, distinctive and it is always a pleasure to come across any of the ECM vinyl records when I can