What does Ole-Bjørn Talstad sound like?
Warm, intimate, optimistic piano thought clouds.
The review of Ole-Bjørn Talstad – Ferd
Ferd is an old Norwegian word for journey or voyage. It’s the idea that composer and pianist Ole-Bjørn Talstad has been toying with over the last couple of years. He wanted to create an overarching narrative for his debut album and concluded that documenting a journey through life’s struggles with optimism would resonate. It’s not like the world has had a quiet couple of years…
Across the album’s eight tracks, you’ll be getting intimately familiar with Ole-Bjørn Talstad’s fingerwork and his piano. The piano is soft, muted and warm and whilst you can hear the inner guts, hammers and wires working like most felt pianos, they are low in the mix. Instead, the focus is on a warm reverb and this allows Talstad to have a quicker, swaying delivery on his left hand whilst keeping simple melodies ringing out on the right. Tracks like ‘Minne’ sound timeless and effortless, like a morning coffee meditation, with this set-up. Others like ‘Spire’ contain a healthy dose of Nordic melancholy and ennui but with an optimistic undertone. Not a single song sounds downbeat. Instead, the melodies rise up with soft punches and revivals.
Whilst the aforementioned tracks are two standouts, other tracks also linger long after they are finished. ‘Floke’ is beautifully understated, leaning into a swirling melody that often feels unsure and then steps away from itself. It’s a musical equivalent of wanting to reach out for something and then pulling away at the last beat. ‘Motlys’ and ‘Utsikt’ work together as a pair as the former is like a gentler, spacious, higher octave version of the latter. ‘Her’ is the album’s rootsy track with a slightly country classical twang to the piano delivery.
Ole-Bjørn Talstad hangs it all together to create a frozen-in-time feel. The sound design and production are top shelf and the use of space between notes brings the listener a relaxed catharsis. ‘Ferd’ is an excellent debut and adds to Moderna Records’ growing collection of composers that showcase the very best in contemporary classical composition.
Recommended track: Spire
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