Norwegian prodigy Bard Titlestad is the one-man show comprising Future Whirl, a graceful odyssey of terse, sensuous introspection, at times cosmic, most times organic. This brilliant collection of rolling tempos and swaying crescendos displays a mastered cache of restrained New Age, not in any fashion like Yanni, perhaps more akin to Peter Murphy without the latter's baritones. Titlestad's stunning twelve-string and piano melodies takes one on an exquisite transcendental journey across deserts, waters, clouds and ultimately leaves one free-floating with his base senses shattered to ponder the endless possibilities of the universe.
The flamenco influence of Titlestad's guitar and his Gershwin-esque piano twinkling opens up Crystal Dawn, which raptures with the presage of ear canal lovemaking and delivers as promised on the ensuing love sonnet, Question, which precedes a nod to Pink Floyd then hints at early Bowie along its romantic way. Refusing to be cast in league with one of those trendy, faux-art Tranquil Moods samplers, Titlestad skillfully integrates his keyboards with stylized string sampling, while assaulting one's sensibilities with his wrenching solos and wonderfully orchestrated interchange of hypnotic melodies such as on Never Be the Same Again, The Frozen Isle, So Hard to Break Free and Dune Song. Lyrically, Titlestad is as epicurean as his musicianship; Dune Song boasts a poetic track which could be interpreted as significant and poignant to our questionable times, in the same instance containing a simplistic yearning to be.
Lotus features the only other musician on Future Whirl, the lead guitar of Trond Arild Tjostheim, and there is a soft underscore of Depeche Mode and Bjork ala Homogenic mentality that is utterly tasteful in its homage. Lotus next slips into the music-box like mistiness of the title track, which is abetted by a welcome synth that sounds derivative of late sixties to mid-seventies progressive rock. Into the House of the Sun is a tricky and favorable swap between folk and alternapop; like the rest of the songs on this album, the melodies continuously keep one guessing. Titlestad has such a glistening omnipresence with his twelve string, one never knows where he intends to go until he's plucked the right chord and plucked one's heart in the process.
Future Whirl is commanding and peaceful in its serene composition of many schools of thought, be it New Age, alternative, Spanish, Middle Eastern or European. Careful and yet carefree, Bard Titlestad is the product of his influences and we're fortunate to have him as an interpreter to such an earthly resonance.
Post: Bard Titlestad, Makeveien 71, 4049, Hafrsfjord, Norway