As well as being a writing partner in the Rune Grammofon label's most pop-oriented venture; Susanna & The Magical Orchestra and founding member of Norway's Shining quartet as well as a cornerstone of Free-Jazz and electronics outfit Jaga Jazzist, Morten Qvenild is also a major player in the chart-topping rock outfit The National Bank. How the hell Qvenild has somehow made time (and the creative resources) for such a quality venture as In The Country boggles the mind.
"This Was The Pace of My Heartbeat" is a melodic improv piano-driven album of smoky after-hours atmospheres and nostalgic yearnings. The sound of In The Country takes cues from the likes of Tord Gustavsen and John Convertino's recent release in its sparsely populated but richly layered piano arrangements and subtle acoustic instrumentation. Qvenild is very much a man of the giving space to the compositions, allowing the piano room to breath, building small melodic gestures and slow forming crescendos with his band of accompanying players. The M.O. here is all about allowing their time to unfurl in a natural and unhurried fashion. An approach reminiscent of modern composers Arvo Part or Giya Kancheli, but In The Country is nonetheless jazz through and through. This is a music that will have great appeal to fans of the ECM label and any avid listeners of the associated melodic fringes of European improv. Beautiful, enveloping, atmospheric work, with just the right touch of friction to keep its 'Heartbeat' going strong.