Terje Rypdal/Conspiracy

Conspiracy is both the name of Terje Rypdal’s new band and his latest ECM recording.

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It feels like a great time to be a guitarist, and word is that guitar sales are up, so now is the perfect time for Norwegian prog guitarist Terje Rypdal to record his most straightforward album in years. Conspiracy is both the name of Rypdal’s new band and his latest ECM recording. The venerable guitarist has played on over one hundred albums, including thirty as a leader. 

Terje Rypdal has never fit into the categories of so many experimental or prog guitar players. He’s not a shredder, nor is he really a heavy user of tape loops or creator of ambient environments. His melodicism has a reaching quality that communicates strength without being heavy-handed.

 Conspiracy, Rypdal’s first studio recording in twenty years, puts the creation of soundscapes at the forefront of the guitarist’s role. Though influenced by heavy rock guitarists like Jeff Beck and Robert Fripp, Rypdal channels everything through his yearning, singing guitar lines, relying more on atmosphere than raw technique.

His band here is very supportive to his cause, providing shading when needed yet fully able to rock out with their leader. Stale Storlokken plays keyboards, including some great organ and electric piano. Drummer Paj Thowsen is also capable of pushing the band or of adding more subtle color at the edges as he’s done on several previous ECM recordings. Bassist Endre Hareide Hallre plays beautifully throughout, but note is especially taken of his melodic lead on the introduction to “By His Lonesome.”

Fans of jazz fusion guitar will enjoy this disc, even though Rypdal is far from your average shredder–once you get hooked on the sound of his guitar, it’s difficult not to return his work again and again. For those seeking an introduction to the guitarist’s work, Conspiracy is as good a place as any to get a taste for it.

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