As did Abigail, the bands’ previous Losen Records release, Pomona resonates with charm. Guitarist Michael Aadal is passionate about his instruments and on this musical delight his strings are succulent and his chords command.
Pomona Avenue, Fullerton, Los Angeles was, in the early 1950s, the original location of the famed Fender factory. “I only use Fender solid guitar body guitars on this album”, explains Michael. “An old Stratocaster and a Telecaster. No arch tops and hollow bodies, which are the guitars most usually associated with jazz music. I wanted a more ‘direct’ and ‘edgy’ sound this time.”
In Pomona we find a driven determination to examine musical roots. We are taken to the heart of blues, country and jazz, but this is no superficial fusion album – it represents cultural timelessness. There is a serene and seamless structure to both the compositions and the collective contributions of Aadal’s superb musicians, a truly interactive ensemble and the resulting album is all-enveloping, a sonic tapestry.
The pleasing acknowledgements to Knopfler, the shades of Frisell, the melancholy Americana, the soul and grit all combine to create a richly textured and largely understated atmosphere.
Michael says of the opening track, The Border, “This tune really represents what I wanted to say with this album. It’s all about the song and the melody and creating a good collective band sound.” The tune builds, layer upon layer of instrumental perfection and culminates with André Kassen’s searing saxophone (heard to fuller effect on the enchanting track Leaving).
The utterly beautiful ballad Purgatory features the dualism of Aadal’s guitar and Anders Hofstsd Sørås’ pedal steel guitar leading to a reflective passage by Kassen and finally, a lovingly-worked restatement of the theme.
The masterly rhythm section that is bassist Audun Ramo and drummer Gunnar Sæter shine on the imposing Reflections and pianist Ole-Bjørn Talstad and Sørås submit excellently constructed solos on the album’s final track, Traces.
Pomona offers untroubled, natural music for a turbulent, inconsistent world. It’s an organic reflection, a contemplative combination of musical roots and because the album comes from Norway, I hope you’ll allow me a concluding cliché, Pomona is a breath of fresh air.
David Fishel, July 2016.