Without announcement, the revamped Tord Gustavsen trio enters the stage of Rotterdam’s packed LantarenVenster theatre. Gustavsen bends deep over the keys of the grand piano and begins a hushed arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Jesus Meine Freude. Drummer Jarle Vespestad and bassist Steinar Ragnes drop in simultaneously. The new bassist who has experience in rock music plays remarkably confidently. The trio continues with a Swedish folk song propelled by an irresistible Gustavsen groove.
Gustavsen introduces his band members and the trio continues with music from the album Opening, which was released earlier this year. Thanks to Ragnes’ solid bass accompaniment, Vespestad also seems to tackle his drum kit with more emphasis. New to this trio is the battery of effect pedals that distort the sound of the double bass and make the instrument’s strings sound like a cross between an abrasive violin and an electric rock guitar. Gustavsen also provides his mesmerising lyrical compositions with an electronic bedding. The instrument-focused Norwegian musicians work towards an impressive moment of intense introverted ecstasy. Ultimately, the Tord Gustavsen trio returns to the austere beauty of partly improvised Norwegian church music. The dust has settled, the souls are cleansed.