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stian westerhus - Pitch Black Star Spangled
Arriving the same week as the new Puma LP, Pitch Black Star Spangled is the new solo album from that trio's guitarist Stian Westerhus, a musician also known for his role in famed Nordic big-band export Jaga Jazzist. When last Westerhus unleashed a solo release, it was around twelve months ago with the inaugural outing for Rune Grammofon's The Last Record Company subsidiary, and like that album (titled Galore), this latest effort is a remarkable showcase for Westerhus' talents as an improvising guitarist. There's some serious invention afoot on PBSS, and Westerhus' range as a guitarist far outreaches the instrument's customary vocabulary. One way or another the guitar becomes a near endless source of new sounds, juggling boisterous free-expression with far more pensive, diligently crafted soundscaping - often converging on a kind of realtime dark-ambience. At the heart of the album is the twelve-minute title track, which in its early phases concentrates on coaxing various electronic squawks out of Westerhus' tormented pickups before ascending into a ruptured, soaring blues. More great moments crop up during 'Music For Leaving' (which could almost pass for the finely manicured noise-shaping of early Jazzkammer) and the lamenting, bowed tones of 'Empty Hands Mirrored Softly' - this is another top quality entry onto Rune Grammofon's discography.