The Beauty of Fake

RCD 2145CD RCD 2145CD

The Last Hurrah!! is the project of Norwegian guitarist HP Gundersen plus a jamboree of international players and singers. Based in Bergen in western Norway, Gundersen has a long history in Norwegian music and beyond. As a producer he discovered and nurtured the career of Sondre Lerche, one of Norway's most successful international exports. As well as Madrugada's mega-hit "Lift Me" with Ane Brun, he has produced over 50 albums -- including Tim Rose's final album American Son. An encounter with a Gambian kora-playing folk musician a few years ago was life-altering and, in his own words, took him to a new level of musical understanding. n 2011, his cover of Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky" on the free Mojo tribute CD Return to the Dark Side of the Moon drew high praise from readers. His previous album, Spiritual Non-Believers, was voted album of the year in VG, Norway's most popular newspaper; The Wire called it "maddeningly well executed." HP Gundersen grew up in the 1960s, tuning in to European radio stations and having his mind blown by the sparkling melodies of the decade's pop music, like The Byrds and The Beatles. Notably, these two groups were among the first to absorb Eastern influences, as Gundersen has done in The Last Hurrah!!. Chinese guzheng (zither) resonates with pastoral flutes, Hawaiian guitars and the plangent tones of the Scandinavian Hardanger fiddle. Listening to the repetitive pluckings of the opener, "The Rush," you can't help but think of Steve Reich's solo guitar trance-out Electric Counterpoint; elsewhere you'll hear echoes of Don Cherry's multicultural visions, the soaring harmonies of Rubber Soul-era Beatles, and the magical open tunings of folk-rockers like David Crosby and Stephen Stills and Davy Graham. Country music meets raga meets psychedelic sugar-rush. For Gundersen, the concept of universal music is a truth older than entertainment. Jamming on one chord is a highly democratic way of music-making: anyone can take part. And they do: a dozen extra musicians are involved on various tracks, including jazz-trained vocalist and long-time collaborator Heidi Goodbye, and the remarkable guzheng (zither) played by Yuyue Zheng. There's even an appearance from U.S. saxophonist Jon Irabagon, leader of tumultuous ensemble Mostly Other People Do The Killing. Paradoxically, being restricted to a one-chord drone opens the music up wider than ever.