The Norwegian trio’s third album is the first release since leader Morten Qvenild won the coveted “Musician’s Award” at the prestigious Kongsberg Jazzfestival. The sparseness of his work here with fellow Countrymen, double bassist, Roger Arntzen and percussionist, Pål Hausken begins with the album title and extends, literally, to the CD itself, which is simply a complete white disk. As anyone caught in this extreme weather will attest, everything around you swells into complete and utter emptiness, as infinity stretches around you in every direction. A step in any direction can lead anywhere and nowhere simultaneously. Into this sonic “white board,” Qvenild & Co. toss flickering darts… fluttering piano notes proffered as salvos for salvation – attempts at a last minute rescue from oblivion. “Kungen” waltzes across empty fields of frozen snowbanks with tinkling icicles piercing the night in search of prying eyes racing ot the rescue. The giddy “Doves Dance” sweeps across your sonic pallette with one of those, “I know I’ve heard this somewhere before” melodies that you’ll find yourself humming several days later, wondering where it came from. There’s a little “Fernando’s Hideaway” cocktail jazz rumbahing around Hausken’s loop-de-loop drum fills, while guest Andreas Mjøs’ snazzy vibraphone keeps everyone light on their feet. Qvenild’s grand piano solo adds a light jazz touch that signals cocktails are flowing and the band is ready to groove the night away.
The epic nature of the last half of the (double) album (all tracks exceeding ten minutes) begins with the classical vibe of the dance across the universe, “Ursa Major,” tiptoes across the frosty meadows while balancing a tray of brandy snifters and trying to keep “W.A.R.M.” and ends, majestically, with the sidelong, 20-minute “Mother,” the only track with vocals (in English). Like a progressive suite floating through a universe of snowflakes, the “whiteout” completely envelopes the listener in waves of rolling pianos, swirling synths, frollicking guitar notes and strident drum rolls…and that’s just the first nine minutes! The last half (which, following a few moments of get-your-head-together silence, may actually be a hidden track?) is softer, hesitant, as if our protagonists were still stumbling home through the snow with a few cocktails sloshing around inside to keep them warm. A little bit classical, a little bit jazz, a little progressive…it all adds up to a totally enveloping listening experience. 9/10 -- Jeff Penczak (12 August, 2009)