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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Saturday, 24 October 2020 23:52

Andreas Hourdakis - Underworld

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Nothing mythological about this collection of subtle guitar trio tracks.

I got to know Andreas Hourdakis’ playing through his work with the Magnus Öström’s band over the last decade. But whereas in that group he plays a more energetic, fusion style of playing, his own compositions are more textured and subtle.

Playing with Hourdakis are his regular trio compadres, Ola Winkler on drums and Martin Höper on acoustic bass. The real magic they create isn’t obvious, or in-your-face. It happens at a microscopic, almost atomic level of detail, so it’s easy to miss.

A number of the track on the album explore the subject of Greek mythology, but each song is more of a lyric poem than a full-blown heroic epic.

Unto a Star provides a low-key start, with lots of angular runs and gives the listener a taste of what’s to come.

On Craftsman a jaunty little bass riff by Höper opens proceedings, over which Hourdakis gets out his palette and paints a kaleidoscope of colours. This is the opening single from the album - somewhat surprising for a jazz guitar album but, in the world of Spotify and YouTube, a welcome return to the idea of the single as show window for the rest of the album.

Talos Run spreads out gently like concentric ripples on a pond stone, until there’s a step-change and guest keyboardist Daniel Karlsson (also in Magnus Öström’s band) and Hourdakis duel in a light-touch, safety-catch-on sort of way.

Aiwass was a mysterious being summoned by Aleister Crowley who dictated one of his most famous works to the author. This ghostly idea is brought to life by a conversation between Hourdakis and Tobias Winklund on cornet, but it’s not at all scary to listen to. 

Midnight is a cup-of-Horlicks sort of a track. It’s what you might call comfort jazz. Just luxuriate in it like a soothing bath. On Matter shows that Hourdakis’ playing is as formable as gold, but equally as lustrous.

On Gaynmede, the chords glide around like the heavenly body around Jupiter after which it presumably is named while The Express ups the pace, delivering more urgency from bass and drums, yet even here Hourdakis doesn’t depart from his crystal clear, point-perfect playing. It’s all made to sound so effortlessly easy, but the complexity of the construction is in inverse proportion to the simplicity of the tune

On Underworld, Hourdakis' guitar playing pulses in and out over the quietest of accompaniments by the other two thirds of the trio, to great effect.

Listen to a preview of the album here:

This is not an album marked by variety, surprise or great leaps of sonic invention. This lack of variation and sonic adornment might, you think, jar. But that’s not the point. 

It’s great background music. Sounds like a dismissive statement. But it isn’t. I mean, it’s an aural jacket you can slip on and just get comfortable in as you perform some task or sit down with a glass of wine and some cheese. It’s unobtrusive contemporary jazz, and all the better for it.

Read 2212 times Last modified on Sunday, 25 October 2020 08:04

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